Friday 20 October 2023

Sir Tim Wallis RIP

Sir Tim Wallis passed away peacefully at his home in Wanaka on 17 October 2023 aged 85.  Sir Tim was renowned in many different spheres of business and flying, both in New Zealand and worldwide, including aerial deer hunting and pioneering live deer recovery.  He built up one of the world's best collection of WW 2 aircraft and started the Wings Over Wanaka airshow in 1988 to showcase them.  And he was also instrumental in resurrecting the Russian Polikarpov I-16 Rata (six of them) and I-153 Chaika WW 2 fighters (three of them) from wrecks recovered in Russia where they were rebuilt in Novosibirsk and shipped to Wanaka.  He was badly injured in the crash of his Spitfire Mk XIV ZK-XIV2 in January 1996 which left him medically unfit to fly, but he kept up his passion for Warbirds Over Wanaka until his passing.

One of Tim Wallis's early ventures was Luggate Game Packers Ltd who flew venison out to their processing plant at Luggate, just down the road from Wanaka.  Here is their Cessna 180A ZK-BUQ at Invercargill in October 1968. 

Then followed Alpine Helicopters Ltd initially with leased machines.  The Bell 47G ZK-HBB was their first owned machine followed by the Hiller UH12E ZK-HAN and then the Bell 47G ZK-HAX. Their 4th helicopter was the Hiller UH-12E ZK-HBL which is photo'd here at Queenstown in April 1974.

Over the years Sir Tim's companies have owned and operated many helicopters.  Here is Hughes 500D ZK-HOT at Christchurch in April 1988 marked with Alpine Deer Group Ltd script.

Another passion of Sir Tim was his collection of WW 2 aircraft, the first of which was the North American P 51D Mustang ZK-TAF which was first registered in May 1986.  This photo is of it later, in February 2009 at Wigram where it was assembled and first flown on 24-01-1985 on its US registration.  It became the foundation aircraft of Sir Tim's Alpine Fighter Collection.

The Alpine Fighter Collection has owned some different and exotic aircraft over the years such as this Harvard based Mitsubishi Zero replica which arrived in NZ in late 1992 and flew as N15798 until becoming ZK-ZRO from April 1998. It went to Australia as VH-ZRO in 2001. 

One of Sir Tim's six Polikarpov I-16 Rata's that flew at Wanaka was ZK-JIN which is photo'd here in April 1998.

And one of his three Polikarpov I-153 Chaika's was ZK-JJN which is photo'd here in the Alpine Fighter Collection's hangar at Wanaka in September 2005.  You can see Sir Tim's Spitfire Mk XVI ZK-XVI in the background.

And finally here is Sir Tim's Hawker Hurricane 2A ZK-TPK photo'd at Wanaka on April 2006.  It was completed by Air New Zealand at Christchurch and registered here in August 1999 and was sold to a new owner in France in 2013.  

After Sir Tim's 1996 Spitfire crash the Alpine Fighter Collection was gradually sold off  but Warbirds Over Wanaka continues to be one of the most spectacular airshows in the Southern hemisphere.

Rest in Peace Sir Tim.  You wrote several chapters of the history of aviation in New Zealand.

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