Rare wings and walker to star at NZ airshow
05 Mar 2010
Warbirds over Wanaka
2 - 4 April 2010
A rare Japanese Zero fighter and a German wing walker promise dramatic action at the 2010 Warbirds over Wanaka international air show in the picturesque lake district of New Zealand’s South Island.
The Mitsubishi Zero fighter, which is one of only three airworthy examples in the world, is expected to attract widespread interest at the Easter event - along with 39-year-old German wing walker, Peggy Krainz who promises an "unforgettable performance".
An estimated 100,000 people are expected in Wanaka for the three-day air show and more than 70 aircraft will be on show.
World War II aircraft
Securing the Japanese Zero fighter for the New Zealand air show is a coup that represents months of delicate negotiations with its owner.
The aircraft will be assembled at Wanaka airport after being shipped from the United States.
A WWII classic fighter plane, the Zero was feared by Allied airmen in the Pacific. It was used in the raid on Pearl Harbour and later in kamikaze operations.
The fighter plane will be of particular interest to a group of about 30 WWII veterans who are being hosted at the show.
In all 11,000 Zeros were produced between 1940 and 1945 and, while some exist in museums today, it is believed there are only two still flying.
The plane was designed by Jiro Horikoshi and was known for its excellent manoeuvrability and very long range.
Loops and rolls
For the first time in 20 years, a wing-walker will feature at Warbirds on Wanaka.
Peggy Krainz says she will be looping and rolling at speeds of up to 240km/h while attached to a Boeing Stearman aircraft piloted by her partner Friedrich Walentin.
The couple, who will be making their first visit to New Zealand, have performed more than 600 aerial displays overseas.
Krainz says she’s looking forward to admiring Wanaka’s dramatic scenery from the lofty vantage point.
"We are anxious to see your country and we [will] try to stay also a little time for a holiday," Krainz said.
In another first, four national air forces will attend Warbirds over Wanaka - the RNZAF, RAAF, USAF and the French airforce.
Amongst the many aircraft on display will be New Zealand’s two remaining air-worthy Spitfire fighter planes. Worldwide, there are only 45 Spitfires still flying.
Auckland-based Doug Brooker will fly his own Spitfire. The second Spitfire, which has been five years in restoration, is owned by the family of renowned Kiwi fighter pilot Alan Deere, who served in the RAF for 40 years.
Rugby also features on the programme. All Black captain Richie McCaw will have his glider at the show, and fellow All Black Jimmy Cowan is planning to drop in with the Ranfurly Shield - the prized New Zealand rugby trophy currently held by Cowan’s home team Southland.
Local Upper Clutha school children will have free entry to the first day of the show, and event manager Mandy Deans says the initiative highlights the growing interest in New Zealand’s aviation and military history.
Events like the air show provided a rare opportunity for young people to get first hand experience of the sounds, smells and sights of aircraft and military in the wars that shaped history, Deans said.
With low-flying warbirds, explosions and battle re-enactments with tanks, jeeps and uniformed soldiers on the ground, the past would be brought to life in front on them, she said.
Warbirds over Wanaka is the only air show in the world where live ammunition is fired from a classic flying machine. A Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk will fire all six machine guns in an historic re-enactment on shipping and airfields in the Solomon Islands.
Background: Warbirds over Wanaka
Warbirds over Wanaka is a biennial event and a major Central Otago tourist attraction. It is one of the world’s premier warbirds air shows.
The event began in 1988 when local aviation entrepreneur Sir Tim Wallis staged an air show and country fair that attracted 14,000 visitors to Wanaka airport.
Delighted with this success, Wallis decided to expand on the theme and hold a biennial event over the long Easter weekend. As the show grew so did support and now around 100,000 people make the pilgrimage to Lake Wanaka for the weekend.
With many visitors coming from overseas and staying for several nights, the event has an important economic impact on the region.
A 2006 survey showed NZ$35 million in direct spend by airshow visitors, with the overall economic impact in excess of NZ$50 million.
The Warbirds over Wanaka charitable trust was established in 2006, and ensures Sir Tim’s legacy continues to develop. The trust’s vision is to "inspire and educate generations with inspirational Warbirds Airshows highlighting the unique lake and mountain scenery of Wanaka".
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