Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow Update

LIFT FEB 2020


With the air show world sensing a much-hoped-for return to normalcy beginning to arrive, the legendary biennial Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow in Wanaka, New Zealand is already making plans for their event over the Easter weekend of 2022, as their recent press release stated…

This Airshow will be particularly special, as it will help celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

While the 2020 Airshow was cancelled due to New Zealand being in Covid-19 lockdown, the 2022 event is already shaping up to be a must see for all aviation enthusiasts, and tickets have begun selling as of this March 15th.

General Manager, Ed Taylor says, following confirmation of the RNZAF’s presence, that discussions are already underway with a number of international air forces regarding their participation at Warbirds Over Wanaka 2022. “It’s hoped a number of air forces will be in attendance,” Taylor noted. “Warbirds Over Wanaka has hosted the air forces of the United States, Australia and France over recent years. Their displays add an international ‘wow factor’ the crowds really appreciate and we’re always grateful for the support they give our event,” he continued.



The Royal New Zealand Air Force is a regular attendee at Warbirds Over Wanaka, and is looking forwards to putting on a significant display next year. Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark, RNZAF Chief of Air Force, says the ability to mark the air arm’s 85th Anniversary at Warbirds Over Wanaka is a great opportunity, noting “Our personnel enjoy being part of the Airshow, involved in the flying displays and on the ground engaging with attendees. To be able to mark an important milestone date in our history at the same time is fitting and we’re thankful to Warbirds Over Wanaka for this opportunity.”

The other great news is confirmation that next year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka will feature a rare Polikarpov I-16. This Russian WWII fighter aircraft arrived in New Zealand from Germany just before the 2020 Airshow ended up being cancelled. We’ve been working with the owner ever since and, through his generosity and the support of our sponsors, Hamburg Sud and Mainfreight, we’re now in a position to confirm the aircraft is staying here to take part in the 2022 event.

This aircraft is one of nine Polikarpov fighter wrecks famously located in Siberia by Warbirds Over Wanaka’s founder, Sir Tim Wallis, back in the early 1990s.  Sir Tim organized for their restoration in one of the original Russian Polikarpov factories before they returned to Wanaka where they instantly became a huge hit with vintage military aircraft fans from around the world.

After Sir Tim Wallis progressively sold off his warbird collection during the early 2000’s, the Polikarpovs went to new owners across the globe.  Today it is believed that only three of the I-16s are still flying, making the return of one of these charismatic fighters to the skies over Wanaka very special indeed. “We know there are thousands of fans who will travel to Wanaka just to see this distinctive little aircraft with its noisy 1000hp engine come ripping down the flightline,” Ed Taylor commented.

Lithuanian two-time World Aerobatic Champion, Jurgis Kairys, will put the pugnacious Polikarpov through its paces over Wanaka in 2022.

As already noted, tickets for the 2022 Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow are already on sale and those looking to lock in their purchase early can do so at the following link: https://www.warbirdsoverwanaka.com/2020-airshow/tickets/





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