Outstanding Omaka!

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Report by Andreas Zeitler

The bi-annual Classic Fighters air show in Omaka, New Zealand is one of the best warbird events in the Southern Hemisphere and ranks very highly against any of the more well known and prestigious flying displays elsewhere in the world. This year marked the air show’s 8th edition, and it clearly has a promising future. One unfortunate incident marred an otherwise marvelous display during the practice air show on the Friday though. After a stunning performance in front of a deep blue sky the Flugwerk FW-190 suffered a ground loop near the end of its landing run. Once the dust had cleared, there remained a sad view of the 190 lying on the ground, its propeller blades shorn off and landing gear splayed out beneath it. Thankfully Frank Parker, her pilot, was able to walk away from the incident.

The Butcher Bird thrilled the practice show audience on the Friday afternoon, before her unfortunate ground loop during the landing following the display. (photo by Anders Zeitler)
The Butcher Bird thrilled the practice show audience on the Friday afternoon, before her unfortunate ground loop during the landing following the display. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)

According to its owner, the Butcher Bird should be in the air again for the next show in two years, but it is probably too early to say just yet. This year the great WWII aerial mock combat acts, which are one of the trademarks of the Classic Fighters air show, had to go on without the German enemy being chased by Allied Mustangs, Spitfires and Kittyhawks. Fortunately this setback did not stop this great show from rolling on! Already the evening show on Friday afternoon was stunning. Covered in gorgeous, golden, late-afternoon light, aircraft and helicopters performed, before the sun set and the golden shining clouds and deep blue sky provided an excellent backdrop for more flying and fireworks.

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One of The Vintage Aviator Limited’s magnificent and extraordinarily faithful replicas of a WWI Albatross D.Va biplane fighter. Kermit Weeks tried her out for size during the show as he owns one of the company’s previous examples. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)
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Brendon Deere’s Spitfire Mk.IX PV270 taking to the skies in the dying sunlight. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)
The former RNZAF FG-1D Corsair thrilled the crowd during the sunset display. (photo by Anders Zeitler)
The former RNZAF FG-1D Corsair thrilled the crowd during the sunset display. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)
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A Nieuport performs a low flypast in the setting sun. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)

The dusk also laid a veil on the arrival of the actual star of the show, as the Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk.XIV NH799 landed at Omaka. It has only just reflown following a lengthy restoration, having been involved in a serious crash back in 1996 which nearly took the life of the legendary Sir Tim Wallis. After that crash the Omaka-based “Chariots of Fire” syndicate acquired the wreck and had it slowly rebuilt by the genius technicians at Avspecs in Ardmore, near Auckland. It celebrated its first post-restoration flight only the day before arriving at Classic Fighters. It arrived during darkness with its remarkable Griffon-sound reverberating off the nearby mountains. During the next two days it impressed several times with stunning flying displays!

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NH799 following is post-sunset arrival at Omaka. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)
The Avenger and Anson silhouetted by the setting sun in a glorious New Zealand skyline. (photo by Anders Zeitler)
The Avenger and Anson silhouetted by the setting sun in a glorious New Zealand skyline. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)

The Classic Fighters are a great celebration of especially WWI and WWII aviation, with New Zealand’s warbird owners and pilots gathering in the scenic Marlborough county to display their aircraft in front of the gorgeous scenery of vineyards and the extensive mountainous landscape. This air show offers one of the rare opportunities to see a large number of WWI aircraft, some of which form part of TVAL (The Vintage Aviator Ltd.) collection. The big goal for the 2015 show was to fly an 8-ship formation of Fokker Dr.I triplanes, and this happened with meticulously flying by the pilots; one of them even supplementing the performance with a Fokker D.VII. The WWI scenario was also the big show act before lunch, when plenty of aircraft launched and battled in the air, while on the ground fierce fighting was going on that included replica British Mark IV battle tanks. While the British superiority on the ground was taking a fortress, in the air Fokker Dr.I Triplanes were circling, reinforced by an Albatros D.Va, Fokker D.VII, D.VIII and even a Pfalz D.III, whereas the Allies were fighting with several Sopwith and Nieuport-type aircraft for aerial superiority.

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Eight replica Fokker Dr.1 Triplanes graced the skies over Omaka during the WWI component of the air show. (photo by Andreas Zietler)
A Fokker D.VII taxies out for take off. (photo by Anders Zeitler)
A Fokker D.VII taxies out for take off. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)

During lunch break plenty of food stalls were available, either serving hearty meat meals or giving the visitor to try and taste the local delights as many micro-breweries and of course the wineries offered their products. The afternoon part of the show focused mainly on the WWII warbirds whereupon apart from plenty solo displays the flying activity once again cumulated in a big scenario. This was quite stunning as it involved a flying scale model of a “Doodlebug”, the German V-1 flying bomb!

The extraordinary flying scale model of a V-1 Doodlebug wowed the audiences. Powered by five small jet engines, the V-1 Remote Control model was the next in a line of unique aspects which the Classic Fighters Air Show brings its audiences every year. (photo by Anders Saether)
The extraordinary flying scale model of a V-1 Doodlebug wowed the audiences. Powered by five small jet engines, the V-1 Remote Control model was the next in a line of unique aspects which the Classic Fighters Air Show brings its audiences every year. (photo by Andreas Zietler)

It was built by local enthusiasts and launched of a ramp to do many circles. The video below offers a synopsis of how the aircraft was built and controlled. It is quite fascinating!

In the meantime a Spitfire was circling overhead and two more Spits and a Mustang tried their best to destroy the buzz bomb site with strafing runs. In the end of course they succeeded and T-6s circling overhead provided even more sonorous sound in the air.

A RNZAF Mustang off to take out the V-1 with the Spitfire Mk.IX. (photo by Anders Zeitler)
A RNZAF Mustang off to take out the V-1 with the Spitfire Mk.IX. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)
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The uniquely airworthy Avro Anson Mk.I took part in the displays, even dropping dummy bombs from he sky on the target below! (photo by Andreas Zeitler)
The Anson streaming fake smoke from its engines during its display. (photo by Anders Zeitler)
The Anson streaming fake smoke from its engines during its display. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)

At the end of the Sunday a massive take-off and fly-by closed the event with 28 aircraft in loose formation. It was highlighted by a “Poppy drop” from the Avro Anson to commemorate the fallen soldiers, which was valued by the public with dignified silence and individual applause. Apart from this impressive view during the fly-by their take-offs and landings in a nice afternoon light were a great chance to catch a final view of them until latest the next edition of “Classic Fighters” on the Easter week-end 2017. As an additional remark it has to be mentioned that though this review focused on the “warbird” aircraft during the show, CF15 was far more than that. Classic jet fighters and transport aircraft were in the air, the RNZAF displayed some of their assets and the ubiquitous aerobatic performances provided thrilling view for the spectators.

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Some of the many North American Harvards/T-6s which were on hand at Omaka. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)
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Spitfire Tr.9 ‘MH367’ taxies out for take off during the display. (photo by Andreas Zeitler)

The author would like to thank the organizing team of “Classic Fighters 2015” for their generous support during the airshow!

And WarbirdsNews wishes to thank Dr.Andreas Zeitler very much for his report. Please visit his website –  www.flying-wings.com

2 Comments

  1. Totally agree, great show in a stunning setting. I’d promised myself that I’d make the trip to see the show and it didn’t disappoint. A great pity the 190 came to grief but great news the pilot was okay.

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