The only remaining airworthy Avro Anson Mk I in the world, MH-120 registration ZK-RRA, has been confirmed to fly at the biennial Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow in Wanaka, New Zealand being held April 18-20 at Wanaka Airport. Owners Bill and Robyn Reid of Nelson had hoped to have the machine ready for the 2012 Warbirds Over Wanaka event but narrowly missed completing all the paperwork required for it to fly.
Mr. Reid is delighted to have the aircraft flying at Wanaka for the 2014 airshow, after a restoration spanning over a decade. “It has basically been about ten years but it seems to be ongoing…it’s been a quarter of my working life.” He hopes to co-pilot the aircraft at Wanaka for highly-experienced display pilot, Dave Phillips. Mr Reid is a veteran helicopter pilot who flew in the early days of helicopter venison recovery and with Robyn, built up a successful helicopter business. Their son Toby and his wife Rachael now operate Reid Helicopters Nelson Ltd.
Ansons were a popular coastal reconnaissance bomber that performed anti-submarine, convoy protection and crew training duties. Around eleven thousand were produced between 1935 and 1952. Post-war, Avro MH-120 continued to be operated by the Royal Australian Air Force before being surplussed in 1953 and began a civilian career in Australia as a passenger and freight hauler. The plane was sold to Reid in 2002 who has restored it to its former military configuration from nearly 70 years ago. The turret and military equipment has been re-installed and the aircraft had been painted to represent a machine that flew with 206 Squadron of the Royal Air Force.
The 2014 show features a more ambitious than the last show held in 2012. Says Warbirds Over Wanaka event manager, Mandy Deans: “We have facilitated a ‘Rides Day’ on Easter Monday where anyone can get up a microlight, helicopter, DC3 or even a WWII Mustang. This seems to have struck a real chord with young people and thriller-seeker types as well as our die-hard warbird fans.” A sport aviation category with both ground and air displays had been added to the main airshow with classic and MG cars, tractors and entertainment. Also scheduled is an early evening WWI centenary event on Friday, April 18 at the Wanaka waterfront.