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RNZAF aircraft old and new set to wow at Warbirds Over Wanaka

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) will embrace its history and future at this year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka, with the air show being the final southern public outing for the retiring C-130H (NZ) Hercules transport aircraft.

25 March, 2024

The RNZAF has been wowing aircraft enthusiasts across Central Otago skies for 36 years at Wanaka warbirds airshows, and this Easter they’re back to delight.

Every current RNZAF aircraft type will be seen at Warbirds Over Wanaka, subject to availability. Some will carry out flying displays, while others will be on static display for the public to get up close. Some will be working to provide transport support to the biennial event.

The Air Force Heritage Flight will also be at Wanaka, including a recently restored P-51 Mustang in its first public flying display.

A new RNZAF P-8A Poseidon will also be seen in action for the first time, demonstrating a simulated raft drop with a low pass down the airfield.

It will be the final air show for the retiring fleet of No. 40 Squadron C-130H (NZ) Hercules, and they will be celebrating the iconic aircraft with a Formation Thunder flypast, a handling display, Kiwi Blue parachute display and a lakefront flare drop that promises to be spectacular.

“Events such as Warbirds Over Wanaka provide an opportunity for the RNZAF to display its aircraft capability, showing how it can support the people of New Zealand.”

~ Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Darryn Webb.

“Domestic air shows and display activities enable the RNZAF to inspire, educate and engage with the communities it serves. Not only do they allow for the demonstration of skills and capabilities of the RNZAF, they also support the preservation of the RNZAF’s history.”

A variety of grey painted Air Force aircraft, large and small are lined up on the centre of a runway. The photograph is taken from the air, showing the aircraft, nose on.

Every RNZAF type, subject to availability, should be on display at this year’s Wānaka air show

Warbirds 3

Aerobatic display team, the Black Falcons, will be the RNZAF’s cornerstone of the weekend

No. 14 Squadron aerobatic display team, the Black Falcons, remains a cornerstone of the weekend with the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II aircraft, and helicopter enthusiasts can enjoy a No. 3 Squadron A109 two-ship handling display, before they team up with a No. 6 Squadron SH-2G (1) Seasprite helicopter and No. 3 Squadron NH90 for a combined winch display.

Squadron Leader Jim Rankin is the RNZAF Air Display Director and has been to every Warbirds event bar one, as both the military Display Director and Civil Display Director.

The air show was about more than celebrating aircraft in the air, he said.

“The role demonstrations and handling displays are a chance to practise and sharpen the flying skills required to operate our aircraft across the range of outputs we deliver for the New Zealand Government.

“Whenever an aircraft gets airborne though, it requires more than just our aircrew to operate them – it requires technical staff to maintain the airframes, working alongside logisticians, refuellers, security forces and firefighters.  Everyone has a part to play in delivering our military air operations,” he said.

The Warbirds Over Wanaka air show is held from Friday 29 March to Sunday 31 March at Wānaka Airport.

For tickets and more information visit the Warbirds Over Wanaka website.