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Warbirds Over Wanaka 2010 : cracking stuff. 02/04/2010


Warbirds overWanaka 2010 ..,

Having flown no less than 25 hours from London to Christchurch with Air New Zealand airline, then came the moment to drive the six hour long road across picturesque South Island :  direction Lake Wanaka. Every two years on Easter weekend, Wanaka airport is home of largest vintage airplanes and warbirds airshow in Southern Hemisphere. It was my task to report on with my battery of Nikons and sharp lenses for three days, on April 2nd to 4th.
While driving from Christchurch to Wanaka, I crossed the astonishing landscapes of New Zealand Alps, with glaciers such as Mount Cook, deep blue lakes, and huge quantities of different types of green and yellow colours all mixed together colouring curved mountains. I already could clearly understand why Wanaka airport should be a fest for my lenses due to alpin landscapes. As a photographer, I expected to witness the different patterns of sunlight and shadows that are typical to alpin environments, sunbeams broken by mountain producing all sorts of colours.
For those of us who fly, it is awesome to see huge airfields such as Twizel, used by a few helicopters only for Glaciers flying or to group cattles.




... A6M Zero is fighting back to New Zealand !

During World War II, Mitsubishi A6M Zero were the best japanese fighter aircraft in the Pacific, due to their excellent maneuverability and their long range . Some of them were first used in the raid over Pearl Habour in 1941, and they took part in all air and naval battles during the War in the Pacific. More than 11.000 Zero were produced, and only a handsome of them remain in Museums. The A6M Zero is not the first of the type to have flown in New Zealand : . More than 65 years later - after the Bougainville Zero - an A6M was back to New Zealand. That CAF Zero from Camarillo was shipped to New Zealand, and it took two weeks to make the whole trip. The airplane was delivered on March 26th at Tauranga harbour. It was lifted with a crane, and loaded on a truck, and housed in a secure hangar, before it flew on Saturday March 27th to Omaka airfield, then to Christchurch airport, Ashburton, Timaru, and finally Wanaka.  Pilots Jason Somes and Stephen Barber flew to New Zealand to fly and deliver the aircraft to its final destination, and they displayed it many times a day during the airshow weekend.



What about the airshow ? First report listing main participants is on While Friday April 2nd was rehearsal day, the weekend was dedicated to public display. Warbirds of Wanaka was founded in 1988 by aviator and deer farmer, Sir Tim Wallis. His task was to create not only an air event but a celebration of bygone times in New Zealand, incorporating military displays and all types of vintage vehicles and tractors. The airshow management has passed through family ownerships, but this year was the first time ever that event was organised by the Community Trust. More than 250 volunteers helped running the show alongside twelve local clubs and schools. More than 70.000 people attended the show over the three days, and this was without doubts a real success for Mandy Deans and her fantastic team.




During a six hour long flying program on the weekend,  no less than twelve Harvards, nine Yak-52s, two P-51 D Mustangs,  one Spitfire, one FG-1D Corsair, one La-9, one Yak-3, two Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk, one Consolidated PBY Catalina and two DC- 3 Dakota were the many 1930s and 1940s warbirds fighting alltogether in different war theatre sequences, mixed with pyrotechnics, explosions, and all sorts of wartime ' bangs ' to make things realistic. Association Warhorses keeps military vehicles, tanks, guns and arms of the WWII area on Wanaka field. During the airshow they simulate realistic ground fightings with authentic uniforms, opening hostilities with guns while airplanes perform close support. The jewel on the crown was this year CAF Mitsubishi A6M Zero shipped from California. During one of the many sets it flew in, it performed air combat against the Kittyhawks. One of these P-40s opened fire on the Zero with six 0.50 guns with live ammunition. This ' Kitty ' is the only warbird in the world able to open fire with live ammo. And where else can sou see such formations, as a Lavoshkin La-9 flying with a Aero L-39, or a Spitfire flanked by the A6M Zero ? But thee most important factor is that picturesque surroundings with mountains such as Mt Barker and many other ones.., make the difference with other airshows in the world.



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