Highlights of the Warbirds Over Wanaka Air Show, Wanaka, New Zealand, April 19, 2014

photos copyright 2014 by Fritz

An excellent show in the most dramatic mountainous setting! Although the weather threatened, it stayed away enough to block the sun from our eyes and conditions were calm.  In many ways it added to the dramatic backdrop (see DC-3 taking off below). In NZ the air show crowd line is also much closer to the runway (not even 200 ft!) than in the US.  Even from the top row of the stands, where I could look down a bit onto aircraft taking off and landing, we were very close to the action and no more than a 100 to 300mm zoom lens was needed.


One of the major highlights was this impeccably restored and rare Avro Anson 652A (Mk.I series II), it even has the correct pencils in the navigator's station!  This is the only airworthy Mk.I example.


The New Zealand Navy uses Kaman Seasprite helos on their ships. Although long built in Connecticut where I live, I had never seen one fly until this show - and had to go all the way to NZ!  For some reason, helo demos are rare at US air shows, so I was really eating this up...


And speaking of helos, another highlight was a mass combined demo of 15 helos, including many different types, which just took off from the ramp behind the stands and flew out between them at low altitude to do the show.  Never be able to do the in the US!  They went and hid in the river valley in the background, then they all popped up together and hovered out front before parading around.  There were so many helos up at once I could not get them all in one shot...I think the Westland Scorpion (XP166) was a new one in the air for us.


The New Zealand Air Force also demoed their soon to be retired Iroquois.


Another Kiwi Air Force staple is their new C-130J Hercules, which on take-off in the humid air created some awesome vapor vortices off of the prop tips!


Classic DeHavilland aircraft were also well represented. Below is the Tiger Moth ZK-ALJ I took a half-hour ride in the Monday before the show. It is followed below by another Tiger Moth, a Fox Moth, Dominie, and Chipmunk.


And speaking of DeHavilland, another major highlight, and a first for us, was a pair of Vampires that took part in the jet race, with 3 Aero L-29s, an Aero L-39 and a Curtiss P-40E pace plane.  These WWII era jets have a high-pitched whistling sound from their old-style centrifugal flow jet engines.  Having seen the other jet types fly before, I focused on photographing the Vamps.  The photos start with one of the Vamps taxiing out from behind us with the beautifully restored P-40E, painted in the colors of a Chinese ace.  The race course was an 8-mile oval out over the terraces and Clutha River valley in front of the show and consisted of 6 laps.  The L-39 won, but the rest were so bunched up at the finish it was hard to tell their finish order.  In any case, it was great fun.  Then the Vamps did a number of passes on their own. 


Love the appropriate registration on this amphibian kitplane!


With ANZAC Day coming up less than a week after the show, and 2014 being the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, replica aircraft from that era built in Manston, NZ were on hand for a "dogfight". 

Here come the Brits in their (top to bottom) DeHavilland (Airco) DH5, Bristol Fighter F.2B, and Sopwith Triplane.

They faced the Hun flying (left to right) a Fokker D.VII, Pfalz D.III and Fokker Dr.1.

The Bristol Fighter F.2B scores a "hit" on the Fokker D.VII.

All friends again after the "dogfight"...

Two nice views of the Sopwith Triplane, which predated the famous Fokker Dr.1 triplane.


A new type for me on static display was this French "Army of the Air" CASA CN-235-300 based in New Caledonia.


Aerobatic legend Jurgis Kairys in a Sukhoi 29 races a Lamborghini.  This photo shows how close the show was to us!


Finally, there were, of course, piston-powered WWII warbirds!  Kiwi pilots flew all the types shown below, except the Russian Yak-3s.  I took only a few photos as I mainly love to watch and listen because who knows when they may stop flying.....hopefully never.  The photos start with another Connecticut product - the Vought F4U Corsair.