Monday 31 January 2022

Monty's Miles Messenger at Kaipara Flats Today 31-1-2022

I was delighted to find out the NZ Warbird's Miles M 38 Messenger IIC ZK-CMM2 was flying up to Kaipara Flats airfield this morning, so I popped out for some Jodel maintenance until I heard the Blackburn Cirrus engine approaching (sounds a bit like a Tiger Moth) then I went out to catch its arrival, flown by Graeme Wood:

It's dry in the North!

The instrument panel looked very familiar with its nice round dials.

Then Graeme went for a fly with Bruce Lynch, who has his own Messenger nearly finished at North Shore airfield.

The Messenger is painted to represent Field Marshall Montgomery's personal Messenger from WW II

What a photogenic aircraft!

Couple more helicopters

On hand at Rotor Work's base south of Tokoroa was Bell 206L-3 sprayer ZK-HPC4.  This was imported from South Korea in 2019.

The company operates from bases in Kerikeri, Whitianga, Te Kowhai, Kihikihi  (main base), Kopaki, Tokoroa and Marton and is slowly reducing the piston fleet ( currently 2 Hughes 269C and 4 R44s) with a movement to turbine helicopters (currently 1 Bell 206L, 2 Bell 206B, 1 AS350 and 2 Hughes 369).

Down at the Taupo SAR base was the Hamilton Airport based BK117B-2 ZK-HHJ3 which is now in full Westpac colours,  and was imported from Australia in 2018.


Sunday 30 January 2022

Air Chathams comes to Pauanui

An interesting visitor to a very busy Pauanui airfield today was the Air Chathams' Rockwell Commander 690A ZK-PVB from Auckland.   This is the first noted visit of one of the airlines' aircraft to Pauanui and it has been part of the Air Chathams fleet since 2016,  being originally imported from Australia back in 2000.

With the cancellation of the Tauranga Airshow there have been 8 Yak52s resident over the weekend at Pauanui providing regular aerobatic displays.   Today they were joined by the Yak 55M ZK-YKV up from Tauranga.   This was imported from the US in 2008.

Somehow not blogged here before despite being in NZ since 1974 is the Piper PA28R-200 Cherokee Arrow ZK-DUS,  also up from Tauranga.   It has been with its current owner since 2002.


And a few aircraft along the way

While visiting helicopter operators in the lower North Is a number of interesting aircraft were also noted along the way including at Feilding the Super Air Air Tractor AT502B ZK-SXM which was imported from the US in 2020.

At Masterton the Stoddard-Hamilton Glastar ZK-CIM2 has been converted from tailwheel to nosewheel configuration.   This was registered back in 2018 and has been with its current Masterton owner since March 2021.

And at Hastings the amphibious floatplane Cessna A185F ZK-DWW has acquired a symbol on its tail. This was originally a Mt Cook skiplane imported new in 1986 as ZK-MCU, becomng ZK-MDC in 1999 and then ZK-DWW in 2012.


Saturday 29 January 2022

Tararua Heliwork

Tararua Heliwork operate from a main base inland from Pahiatua and present yesterday was their very blue AS350B2 sprayer ZK-IDR.   This was imported from the UK in 2017 and acquired by the company in September 2021.

Hangared was Bell 206B ZK-HPK3 which was very recently returned to their fleet.   This was originally imported from Japan in 2001 as ZK-HBD3,  becoming HPK in 2002.

The company has also recently acquired the Dannevirke Outback Helicopters' operation and opened a sub base at that airfield with Bell 206B ZK-IBP3.

Friday 28 January 2022

Helicopters in the Wairarapa

Continuing our visits to the helicopter operators in the lower North Is the first stop was Amalgamated Helicopters NZ base at Carrington in the Wairarapa where their impressive MD600N ZK-IJD2 was getting ready to depart.   This was imported from the US in 2016.

Arriving back from a job was Hughes 369E ZK-INZ which was imported from Japan in 2005 and has been with the company since 2007.

Out in the backblocks at Te Parae on the eastern side of Masterton is the Wairarapa Helicopters base.  Their AS350B & 369D were out working but hangared was Hughes 269C ZK-HXS2.    This was imported from Japan in 2000 and has been with the company since 2012.


Classic Fighters 2023 Newsletter #2


Will this be the next major airshow to be held in New Zealand?


CF'23 NEWSLETTER #2                                                       January 2022


Stunning aeroplane, stunning surrounds, just a few minutes flying from Omaka. Noel Kruse is seen here with 'Charlie', the magnificent Ryan STM he restored a few years ago.


With the arrival of the New Year, we are already feeling energised about the next Classic Fighters Airshow, even though it is over 12 months away. The amount of work that goes into one of these events is enormous, so you simply can't start too early as it takes well over a year to put together.  Thankfully, many of the key ingredients for the 2023 airshow were already assembled for last year's cancelled airshow(s) so we have a massive head-start.  This gives us some latitude to do a little bit more to make the next one extra special.  We are going to stick our necks out and say that we are going to assume that Covid will be ancient history by Easter 2023 so we will once again expect to see visitors from right around the world coming to this globally significant event. 

It's pleasing to report that tickets are already selling, with some special deals making it attractive to secure them well ahead of time.  For those of you who have already purchased your tickets for the CF'23 airshow, well done and thank you for your support!

Here are some more reasons to lock in your airshow tickets sooner rather than later!



Graham Orphan




We just had a call yesterday morning from Ed Taylor at Warbirds over Wanaka to advise that due to the NZ Government's decision to move the nation into a 'Code RED' under the Covid Traffic Light System, the team had no choice but to cancel the WOW'22 Easter airshow. Warbirds over Wanaka was one of the first major events to have to cancel in 2020 after the first outbreak of Covid in New Zealand, after which we have experienced two years of event disruption, including our own two attempts in 2021 to run the Classic Fighters Airshow. It goes without saying that our hearts go out to Ed, Mandy and all of our friends at Wanaka and beyond, who have put so much into that amazing event and why I always tell people not to take aviation events for granted.  They all need to be supported as fully as possible whenever you can get to one. 

The next Warbirds over Wanaka is scheduled to take place over Easter 2024. 






After a lengthy restoration here at Omaka, this Fairchild F-24 nears completion.  Gavin Conroy photo

Call it 'an alignment of the stars' if you like, but it seems that more than at any time in the past, the Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow 2023 will see the greatest number of debut aircraft in attendance, of any airshow we have witnessed in modern times and we usually pride ourselves on bringing together record quantities of 'new stuff'. This usually comprises aircraft that are recently out of restoration and displaying at their first airshow, new arrivals from other parts of the world, and at times, international guest machines brought along just for the show. In addition, ground displays and theatrical items from tanks to WW-II era rockets have been seen for the first time ever at Omaka in years past, so we're pleased to be able to say that this event is set to raise the bar yet again for the delivery of 'new stuff' to enjoy. 

At this juncture, quite apart from the rapidly growing Omaka aircraft population, we are expecting debut attendances from historic aircraft from both main islands, their owners keen to share their treasures on this special occasion. New machines expected cross the range of eras from WW-I through the 'Golden Age' to WW-II, so all tastes will be covered!






This pristine new arrival Stearman got the New Year off to a very positive start!

We're only a few weeks into the year but we're already thrilled to have welcomed two new aircraft to Omaka. The first arrived on 1st January. Rob Mackley had his very original Boeing Stearman shipped to Omaka from the USA many years ago to be restored by the late Stuart Tantrum and his son Wayne Tantrum. The aircraft emerged as the stunning ZK-BWR which Rob then flew back to his Ardmore hangar. The story has now gone full circle as this excellent example of the Stearman marque has returned to Omaka to take up residence in Rob's new hangar adjacent to the Omaka AHC. A second arrival a week later came by trailer, when Rob and Caroline brought down the fuselage for the ex-Canadian Yak-52 that is being restored under the care of JEM Aviation's Jeremy Hughan. These exciting new additions to the Omaka line-up are just the first for what is set to be a bumper year for new additions. The next expected arrival will be a fully restored biplane, possibly two, expected here during February.  Happy days!






Both of these resident Omaka warbirds boast Reno Unlimited class racing history! Gavin Conroy photo

In the past, the Classic Fighters event has touched on the history of competition in various motor sports and in air racing in particular. Rest assured this tradition will continue with some significant race-related equipment appearing at the show. Our Pioneer Transport Race will be back with its unique mix of vintage cycles, veteran cars, and pre-WW-I aeroplanes.  This will be augmented by an art-deco racing event that will feature even more stylish Golden Age aeroplanes than before, along once again with some glamorous motor cars of the period. And of course, the only two former Unlimited Class Reno Racers to be found in the Southern Hemisphere, the Yak-3s 'Full Noise' and 'Steadfast' are both based right here at Omaka. These two very serious competition machines never fail to deliver excitement to visitors. 






The coast and Cook Strait can be seen as soon as you get airborne from Omaka and you can be over the beach just minutes afterwards.


Omaka is home to a wide variety of options for those wishing to actually get airborne (outside of the air display period of course!). Resident aircraft offering such flights range from the only WW-II bomber in the Southern Hemisphere that you can fly in, the unique Avro Anson Mk.I, 'Gentle Annie'; the Yak-3 WW-II fighter and Reno racer 'Full Noise' along with the three-seat Stearman open cockpit biplane and the rare de Havilland Fox Moth 'Foxy' providing stylish 1930s biplane touring in cabin comfort. The Marlborough Aero Club, owners of Omaka Airfield, and one of the finest flight training clubs in the country, offer a range of opportunities from introductory flight training through to your full licence, aerobatic and tailwheel ratings etc., so are well worth connecting with for anyone wondering if there might be a flying future on the horizon. 



The Anson started WW-II as the RAF's principal maritime patrol bomber.  Omaka's soul airworthy example (yes, worldwide) is seen patrolling alongside 'Dover' (White Bluff).     Dave McDonald photo






It's hard to beat the elevated view you get from Gold Pass grandstand! That's the CFFC Spitfire Mk.XIVe which can be seen housed at the Omaka AHC through the year. 

We know we will need to revisit the prices for tickets leading up to the major event next Easter, however in the meantime there is the opportunity to lock in your 2023 tickets right now at the old prices. 

Now if you ever thought, "One of these years I am going to treat myself to a 'Gold Pass' experience", perhaps it's time to lock that in right now. Because so many people decided to 'roll over' their tickets from the 2021 airshow(s) that did not happen, we already find ourselves with many of these tickets pre-sold over a year before the show, so there is a high likelihood they will sell out completely before we even get to the end of 2022. For this reason, it will be prudent to get these tickets purchased now.

Just in case you have forgotten, the Gold Pass experience is much more than just deluxe seating in the grandstand. There's no question that you get the best seat in the house, but you also get very posh, deluxe, rest-room facilities, dining in the exclusive Gold Pass marque behind the grandstand, and a gift bag that always impresses with the richness of its content, many items contributed by some of Marlborough's most highly regarded companies. You will not be disappointed. How about booking in today?






Following its first engine runs after its restoration, Omaka's magnificent John Smith Mosquito cools down, Al Marshall's helmet resting atop the canopy (he needed this both for noise management and to communicate with ground crew).

We were looking forward to Saturday 12th February when the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was to host an open day under the title of 'Omaka Mosquito Day'. Unfortunately Omicron has meant new restrictions on events, so we have been forced to postpone.

When we do get to hold this occasion, the intention is to run a casual day of the type we have hosted previously, in which our members get to park their treasures, both automotive and aeronautical, in the AHC's attractive 'courtyard' parking area.  The special event of the day will be the first public running of the John Smith DH.98 Mosquito, its AHC crew bringing it out of the museum for a rare static showing in the sunshine and with the intention of running its Merlin engines, if all of the stars are in alignment. It is hoped to run them three times during the day and ticket holders will be in the draw to take a seat in the co-pilot's position for one of the run-ups. There will also be an auction for the final run in case you don't have the lucky ticket the first time around. All of this is intended to help raise funds to support the upkeep of this magnificent aircraft.

In addition to this special presentation, there will be food and beverages, plus some opportunities to fly in some of the significant historic aeroplanes that are available at Omaka for heritage or adventure flights (see above for 'Experience Flights'). 

For those based near enough to be able to come along on this special day, whilst it is not an airshow and there is no flying programme, it will certainly whet your appetite for colourful attractions that you'll see at the big show over Easter 2023. 

We'll advise as soon as we have a new date for this event, hopefully within the next three months. Keep watching the AHC website for updates.






This Pacific War veteran Lockheed Hudson was based out of Guadalcanal (today's Honiara) during the Pacific War. It twice survived combat with groups of Japanese fighters and still carries the scars of those encounters.                   


Visitors to the Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow often overestimate their ability to see everything in the time they have allocated for themselves.  Members of the public who have no interest in aviation whatsoever, regularly explain that they'd allocated a certain amount of time to view the content of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, and found that they grossly short-changed themselves for time. There are over 50,000 sq ft of display area housing around three dozen significant aircraft from the two world wars, with some remarkably creative display tableaux and some extraordinary story presentations that many seasoned historians feel enriched by on visiting the displays. So with three days of spectacular air displays and so many related attractions on the airfield, you may need to think about booking an extra day to see the museum in a leisurely fashion. 

But wait.....there's more!!  You'll do yourself a disservice if you come all the way to Marlborough and don't take the opportunity to explore the Marlborough Sounds (see below), visit some of the exceptional vineyards, galleries etc etc.  There is so much more to this stunning province that you will miss if you don't stay a few more days. Have a wee peek here...






The Focke-Wulf Fw190A-8N of the Omaka-based Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection is 'bounced' by Brendon Deere's lovely Spitfire Mk.IX in a very realistic dogfight pairing.   Gavin Conroy photo

So, over a year out from the Easter 2023 airshow and there is already so much to see at Omaka that is based right here on the field, before everything else arrives.  Keep watching as the range of attractions continues to grow through the year.  For more of what you can expect to see, have a look at the website here...

Don't forget to click on each aircraft image, as many feature some stunning imagery for you to enjoy.  In the meantime, make sure you start planning for your accommodation, flights etc., as this is one weekend of spectacular entertainment that you know you don't want to miss!

Lock it in today - onwards and upwards!





This view, shot by Gavin from the Classic Wings Stearman, has Noel showing you his playground (yes, he also has a very nice vessel for exploring this wonderful place). 

If you have not been to this part of NZ before, you might be forgiven for not knowing that this region is home to one of New Zealand's greatest natural attractions, the Marlborough Sounds. This seemingly endless labyrinth of pristine waterways (just a fraction visible here) is a paradise for tourists to take in some of the most stunning, majestic sights imaginable.  You should do yourself a favour and plan a longer stay in the region to spend at least some time exploring these beautiful waterways. There are many boating tours available and you can be launching in under 30 minutes drive-time from Omaka. Then there are resorts, tramping, cycling and multitudes of holiday escape opportunities. Take a peek here...






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