Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Exhibition

Classic Fighters PAST AIRSHOW NEWS


Thanks to Classic Wings magazine, sponsors of this page. See the next edition of CW for more about these machines and other exciting restoration activity from right around the globe!


+++ 2013 NEWS +++

March 2013

Traveling by Campervan?

Because of a Total Fire Ban and restrictions from Council, we cannot allow camping on the airfield. Limited numbers of self contained campervans (now at max.) have been approved but not tents.

Campervans with camping tickets should arrive at Classic Fighters empty of any toilet or greywater waste, as there are no disposal facilities at the airfield.

For alternative camping sites and waste disposal, click here.


!!! Online ticket sales will no longer be available after 5pm Wednesday 27th March. !!!


Site plan updated

For anyone wanting to checkout the latest map of the airshow (detailing public access, trade & food sites, Gold Pass, Platinum Pass and Corporate Guest areas etc), download the pdf here.


Awards Dinner

CF13 Awards Dinner - Tickets on sale now!

Tickets to the Classic Fighters 2013 Awards Dinner are now on sale! This event has evolved into one of the Southern Hemisphere's most prestigious occasions for the entire cross-section of heritage aviation, with representation from throughout the industry and from many countries. Click here for more info. Or click here to purchase your tickets online now.


February 2013

CF13 Aircraft Lineup

We've just announced the CF13 aircraft lineup, and it's looking like we're gona have some parking problems! (Will just have to keep plenty in the air at any given time.) Checkout the 'What you'll see' page for more details!

CF13 Lineup


Fighter Flights Available at the Easter Show!

At the rapidly looming Classic Fighters Airshow this Easter, there will be a number of WW-II fighter aircraft available to actually fly in yourself. New regulations have made it possible for these aeroplanes to be accessed more readily for people wanting to buy themselves the ultimate adventure flight in some of these iconic aeroplanes.

The exact range of machines available could vary, but they could include the American P-51D Mustang and P-40 Kittyhawk and maybe even the inimitable British Spitfire. Other aircraft may include military jets like the BAE Stikemaster and for biplane enthusiasts the big Stearman that can carry two passengers together as well as the pilot, so this offers a great ride for couples (those of average size!).

Of course the time the aircraft are available for rides will be limited as it will be outside the actual airshow programme, possibly in the mornings and afternoons of the show, or on the days before or after the event. Rides will therefore be limited so if you’d like to secure your flight of a lifetime, please get in touch with the Omaka AHC at or call NZ 03 579 1305 to register your desire to fly, and we’ll try to ensure that this special feature of the Classic Fighters event can be made available to you!

Warbrid Flights Available


Classic Fighters Announces Sarah Brown To Perform at the Easter Show

Since her debut in 2006, when her single "Hands" won the Juice TV Award for Video of the Year,,Sarah has matured as a songwriter and musician and felt a strong desire to take her art onto a higher plateau. Sarah's new album, “The Great Heart Robbery” is in store now. Recorded in Sydney at Studios 301, it was produced by Tony Buchen (Gin Wigmore) with help from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and some of the city’s top musicians. Sarah and her fabulous band, 'The Northern Lights' are currently on tour and will perform at Classic Fighters throughout the weekend, beginning with a 1940s themed tribute on Friday night.

CF13 Official Poster



As the excitement builds towards the huge Classic Fighters Easter Airshow at the end of March, workers are toiling against the clock on various significant aeroplanes in the hope of having them completed in time for the show. These include a rare Spitfire Mk.XIVe in Auckland and a WW-I Fokker in Blenheim. In the lower North Island it is a US-built Grumman TBM ‘Avenger’. This aircraft was designed and built as a torpedo bomber, a role in which it acquitted itself admirably. Primarily designed for operating from aircraft carriers as it did with the US Navy and the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, the Avenger was employed successfully by the RNZAF as a land-based bomber and New Zealand crews have been applauded for their fine work in these aircraft, 48 of which were employed by Kiwi forces.

There have been no Avengers flying in New Zealand for some years so when this aircraft was brought into the country last year by Marton-based pilot Brendon Deere, his intention from the beginning was to strip off its US Navy paint scheme and refinish it as it would have appeared if it was one of the Avengers flown by the RNZAF. This work is now well underway at the aircraft’s base at (appropriately) RNZAF Base Ohakea where Brendon also keeps his beautiful Spitfire Mk.IX.
If all goes to plan, the freshly repainted Avenger will make its triumphant arrival at Omaka on the Thursday before Easter, and with the Spitfire alongside as fighter escort!


January 2013

RSA hospitality for servicemen and women at Classic Fighters

As a special gesture towards Second World War veterans, the airshow organizers have teamed up with the local Returned Servicemen Association to provide transport, a hospitality tent and free admission to Classic Fighters. If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please contact Jo McConnell on 03 578 5230 or email:


September 2012

CF13 Horizontal Poster

Classic Fighters tickets are now on sale!

Check out the new e-tickets via our ticketing page.

Purchase online now and save up to $50 on a 3-Day Gold Pass!7 Triplanes parked

Buy your ticket online using our secure payment options, print out your e-ticket and bring it with you to the event. Each individual ticket provides admission for one person and will be scanned on arrival, then replaced with either a Gold Pass lanyard or a coloured wristband, depending on ticket type.

Want to come for one day, but don’t know which? Easy, just purchase your 1-day ticket online and turn up on the day of your choice. 

Coming for all three days? Then buy a 3-day admission, only available online for $135, or buy a 3-Day Gold Pass. $375 at the gate but only $325 for an Early-Bird online special, saving you $50!

Wondering what you get for a Gold Pass? If you arrive by car, you will be directed to a reserved car parking area. Gate staff will exchange your e-ticket for a lanyard. Once at the Gold Pass enclosure, you will be given a gift pack valued at over $100, including an official programme, a bottle of Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, the latest Classic Wings magazine, complimentary entry to the amazing Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, a Classic Fighters cap, a Stevens Homeware voucher and more! You will have a guaranteed seat in the raised grandstand, providing a wonderful view of all the action in the air and on the ground. Inside the exclusive Gold Pass marquee there is additional seating and tea and coffee is complimentary, with lunch available for purchase.  All this for only $325 Early Bird rate, valid until Nov 31 unless sold, as numbers are strictly limited.


Happy crowd

Announcing our latest confirmed Sponsors!

Radio Network are working with us as a media partner, promoting Classic Fighters across their radio stations Classic Hits, Newstalk ZB, ZM, Radio Sport, Hauraki and Coast.

Marlborough Lines will be helping us with our power requirements and sponsoring the Marlborough Lines Twilight Extreme on Friday.

Air BP are a major sponsor and will be ensuring our show performers are all tanked up.

Classic Wings magazine are our aviation media partners, providing international exposure to the aviation enthusiasts. They are also offering the latest copy of Classic Wings to everyone in the Gold Pass.

Blue Bridge are our freight partners, sponsoring the cost of freighting equipment across Cook Strait.

Wither Hills are providing a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to every Gold Pass holder.

Stevens Homeware are opening a new retail outlet in Blenheim and as our latest corporate citizens are supporting Classic Fighters and offering a special voucher for Gold Pass holders.

JEM Aviation are sponsoring aviation engineering assistance, particularly in regards to some of the WW1 aircraft from the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, which will be made ready to fly at the show.

Gavin Conroy continues his generous support by making promotional images available through his Classic Aero Photography.

Sounds Air are providing a camera ship to enable the visiting media to take those wonderful air-to-air shots that are seen published around the world.

Deans Lifting - Providing our heavy lifting requirements and provision of shipping containers for all manner of uses.

Butt Drilling - Supplementing our power supply with a range of generators on site.

Scaffold Marlborough - Erecting media towers, including the platform for our commentary team.

Radio Tourism - Promoting Classic Fighters to tourists in their campervans or hire cars, as they drive around New Zealand.

Bank of New Zealand - Providing cash and Eftpos service at the airshow site.



+++ 2011 NEWS +++

July 2011

CF11 Official DVD - Teaser Trailer

Pre-order your copy of the official Classic Fighters Omaka 2011 DVD via the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre website.
The pre-order price is NZ$29.00 + Postage ($5 within NZ and $10 overseas). The DVD is currently in post-production and is expected to be ready for sale by December, at which time the price will increase to the standard NZ$35.00. All proceeds from the DVD will go directly toward the further development of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Classic Fighters 2011 - Awards Dinner Presentations


CF11 Awards Dinner

Congratulations to the winners, and a big special thanks to the sponsors of these great awards!

Kalgin International Freight - Grand Champion Warbird

- Curtiss P-40C 'Tomahawk' AK - Rod Lewis, Texas, USA. (Restored by AVSpecs Ltd).

Avsure Insurance Ltd. - Reserve Grand Champion Warbird

- Spitfire Mk.IX PV270 - Brendon Deere, Marton, N.Z. (Restored by ITL Aviation Ltd).

JEM Aviation - Grand Champion Vintage/Classic Aircraft

- D.H.90 Dragonfly ZK-AYR - Croydon Aviation, Mandeville, N.Z.

Wild South Ltd - Grand Champion Trainer

- Tiger Moth NZ1443 - Russell Brodie, Rangitata Island,

Saunders Aero Pty Ltd - President's Choice

- Yakovlev Yak-3 - Frew Syndicate - (restored by JEM Aviation Ltd)

Gordon Handy Machinery/John Deere

- Phoenix Award - Spitfire Tr.IX - Doug Brooker, Auckland, N.Z. (Rebuilt by AVSpecs Ltd)

Equus Industries - Time Capsule Trophy

- Focke-Wulf Fw190 - Murray Miers, Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection, Omaka (FlugWerk GmbH)

AVSpecs Ltd - Engineer's Choice Award

- Albatros D.Va - Kermit Weeks, Florida, USA - (Constructed by The Vintage Aviator Ltd. Wellington, N.Z.)

SafeAir Ltd - Contribution to Heritage Aviation Award

- Brett Emeny, New Plymouth, N.Z.

Classic Wings Magazine - 'Most Magnificent Machine'

- Bristol B.170 Freighter ZK-CPT - Friends of the Bristol - (Awarded to Al Marshall, ChCh, N.Z.)

Classic Aircraft Sales Ltd - Aviator of the Time Award

- Jerry Chisum

Classic Aircraft Photography - Outstanding Achievement Award

- Roger Lauder (Mastermind behind the CF11 V2 Rocket & Trailer)

Saunders Aero

At least three of the CF11 Awards Dinner Trophies were aluminium aircraft models hand made by Geoff Saunders of 'Saunders Aero' Australia, who also sponsored the 'Presidents Choice' award with one of his stunning Corsair models. -Keith Skilling seemed particularly keen on this one! Checkout the website for the full range of models available.


May 2011

Classic Fighters 2011 - Overview

After many months of hard work by a large group of eager volunteers, Easter 2011 arrived at Marlborough New Zealand with high enthusiasm but not such brilliant weather. Initial concerns gave way to celebrations as one of the most successful airshows ever held in New Zealand came alive at Omaka Airfield, Blenheim.

Grey skies did nothing to dampen the resolve or the excitement of thousands of airshow visitors from around the globe as they lapped up all that was on offer at Classic Fighters airshow 2011. The event had much on offer.....

Aircraft lineup

Perhaps the largest flying display of aircraft from the Great War took to the skies in a daring battle that included as its foundation, the return of the amazing 'Jasta 11', the squadron that made such a reputation for itself throughout 1917 and early 1918 with Manfred von Richthofen, the famous 'Red Baron', leading in his distinctive all-red Fokker Dr.1 Triplane. In all, an amazing SEVEN Fokker Triplanes flew in the Jasta 11 formation this year. Omaka has been privileged to host the largest number of Fokker Triplanes to fly together anywhere since early 1918 when these machines ruled the skies over the western front. They did not have it all their own way however and allied aircraft performing at Omaka this year included the Gnome rotary powered Sopwith Camel, the amazingly agile Sopwith Triplane, the Bristol F2B Fighter and the de Havilland D.H.5 with a Nieuport 11, its 80 hp le Rhone rotary spinning vigorously, helping keep the Germans at bay. But it was not easy as there were so many of them! In addition to the seven Triplanes, there was the new machine in the form of the Fokker D.VII, the best German fighter of the war, and then the older but very capable Albatros D.Va, this one flown so well by owner Kermit Weeks who travelled all the way from Florida to collect his beautiful, hand created, Mercedes powered reproduction from the artisans at The Vintage Aviator Ltd., who were responsible for this amazing, perfect, 'late production model' Albatros fighting scout. Based around the French chateau occupied by the German Air Service (and complete with a Besseneau hangar constructed alongside to house the early Fokker D.VIII prototype which was sadly destroyed by allied bombing on Easter Sunday), the ground troops and period vehicles (including TWO allied 'Mother' tanks) fought it out bravely along the crowd-line whilst over a dozen WW-I fighting machines battled it out overhead. One could never see such a remarkable tussle without the use of a time machine to travel back to the western front in the early part of 1918. What an amazing spectacle!

Aircraft lineup

For the Second World War we saw that same French chateau, once again accompanied by a Besseneau hangar, and once again occupied by German forces, this time playing host to the deployment of a secret weapon, the dreaded V-2 rocket. Earlier, and not far away, we'd seen the British troops welcome an unexpected visitor when Squadron leader Adam Eltham touched down in an RAF Miles Messenger bringing with him none other than Prime Minister Winston Churchill who set about inspecting the troops before being driven away in his exquisite open Bentley staff car. Back at the German base, there was a huge sense of foreboding as a Hanomag half track vehicle towed an ominous looking device out into an open area. Protected by some menacing weaponry like the Panther tank, another tank in the form of the Panzer IV, a Nebelwerfer rocket launcher and various other weapons, the team associated with this sinister looking weapon set about leveling its trailer and and raising the missile component until this huge rocket was aiming skywards. In due course the technicians set about starting the rocket motor but not before some allied aircraft, clearly on reconnaissance patrol, spotted something untoward and started to fly closer to the site. Soon afterward these machines returned, fighters and fighter bombers amongst them and just as the rocket, its evil engine pouring flames onto the ground below started to slowly rise towards its flight and the target beyond, the hot lead being fired at the beast by the strafing Spitfires and P-40s at last found its mark. Almost imperceivable at first, it soon became clear that the evil missile had been mortally wounded and in no time, it started to slow and falter, and then to lean dangerously before an almighty explosion sealed its fate and it fell to Earth, never to kill or to maim innocent victims as it erupted into a huge fireball, a menace no more. The allied aircraft, having also despatched the Panther tank in a ball of flame, headed back to their base.

Aircraft lineup

Of course the battle re-enactments are just a part of the wonderful spectacle that visitors know as the Classic Fighters Airshow. So many other elements make up the display including aerobatics by the wonderfully agile Giles 202; a gliding display by Terry Delore in the sailplane in which he and international adventurer Steve Fossett broke so many world records, the impressive Catalina flying boat, the DC-3s, the Tiger Moths that wrestled in a do or die (but not very fast) air race(!), and of course the RNZAF. Special guest aircraft this year included the wonderful Focke-Wulf Fw190, a type seen for the first time ever in 'downunder' skies which flew all week but which had to cut short its display due to some propeller damage. The very rare Curtiss P-40C 'Tomahawk' of Texan Rod Lewis, made its first public appearance after an extensive restoration led by the team at AVSpecs in Auckland, whilst NZ'ers were thrilled to be reunited with a familiar old friend when Brett Nicholls' BAE 167 Strikemaster jet made its appearance, the first time such a machine had been seen in NZ airspace since the type was retired in 1992.

Aircraft lineup

The weekend was not all about aviation nostalgia however as the 'Taste Marlborough' tent invited visitors from near and far to sample some of the province's globally acclaimed wines, whilst listening to appropriate jazz music, before venturing out to inspect the amazing classic car display or calling by the children's zone to see how the young ones were getting on in the extensive kids-zone! A vast array of trade-stalls, food stalls and purveyors of all things of appeal helped to round off an amazing array of attractions at this hugely popular, aviation themed country carnival and entertainment spectacular. Before CF'11 was even over, very large numbers of international guests had already booked their accommodation for Classic Fighters 2013. What can we say....'Only at Omaka'!!


April 2011

Focke Wulf - First Engine Run in New Zealand


April 2011


Sunday night Classic Fighters Awards Dinner tickets now selling online (limited numbers). Checkout the Tickets Page for more info.

Also checkout the Taste Marlborough page for details regarding the Tast Marlborough Marquee, which will be showcasing some Marlborough's finest wine and food.


The Butcher Bird arrives at Omaka


It is here! IT IS HERE!! The Fw190A was delivered to Omaka early this morning, and the team at JEM Aviation will now be working round the clock to assemble it and get it flying, (hopefully in time for the show). The aircraft has a distinct menace about it, a wicked weapon for sure. An important note here is to advise that the aircraft is being worked on in an area NOT AVAILABLE TO UNAUTHORISED PERSONNEL. The JEM team are under a tonne of pressure and will not welcome people wanting to come for a peek. Please wait for the airshow and give the guys a chance to get it ready for you to see then. Any unwarranted visits will limit this possibility. If all goes to plan you'll see all you want of the 'Butcher Bird' over the Easter weekend!


March 2011


Aircraft lineup
Every second year, the Classic Fighters team prides itself on going out of its way to show visitors things they have not seen before. Not just one or two unexpected aircraft or displays, but we strive to give you at least a dozen or more reasons to raise your camera to capture something you've not seen before and that you will want to show to those unfortunate friends who have not been able to make it this year!

Checkout the 'What you'll see page' for the aircraft set to diplay at Omaka this Easter!

Life is the Pitts!

Pitts S12Pitts S12

Set to make its first appearance at a major New Zealand airshow next month is this stunning specialist aerobatic aircraft, the Pitts Model 12. The distinctive rakish biplane is the latest in a long line of purpose built stunt planes that date back to the first flight of a ‘Pitts Special’ in 1944.

This new aircraft continues the evolution of that first little stunt biplane and the many upgrades that followed, but the 65 hp engine of the first Pitts has given way to a massive 400 hp Russian built M.14 radial engine which gives this new machine a throaty roar and performance to ‘go up like a skyrocket’!

The Pitts Model 12 was built by Auckland based enthusiast John Eaton who will bring the two seater to Blenheim this Easter with display pilot Richard Hood who has previously ‘wowed’ spectators at earlier Classic Fighters shows with his stunning aerobatic routines.

The Pitts Model 12 wears a distinctive purple and black colour scheme and carries a smoke system that will allow viewers to follow its path as it streaks through the sky in a complex display of aerial choreography, blending ballet with aerobics across the vast blue dance floor above Omaka airfield.

This striking biplane is the first Pitts Model 12 to appear in New Zealand and it is a great privilege for the airshow organizers to be able to host its public debut at a major event – only at Omaka!


The Return of the Airstrike Wing!


Enthusiasts attending the Classic Fighters airshow this coming Easter will be thrilled to learn that for the first time in a decade, an RNZAF combat jet is to participate in the airshow. The former RNZAF BAE 167 Strikemaster was a part of the final Strikemaster flypast at Ohakea on 17th December 1992 after which all examples were grounded, many of them being sold overseas. This aircraft, NZ6370, went to Australia where it was flown from Port Macquarrie, NSW, mostly providing adventure flying opportunities for tourists.

Late last year the Strikemaster was purchased by Aucklander Brett Nicholls who shipped it to Ardmore airport, arriving there just after Christmas and where it is being prepared for flight by Pioneer Aero Restorations. I concern over one aspect of the Viper jet engine saw the difficult decision made, to source a replacement engine. It was thought that this would keep the aircraft grounded for many months however a replacement engine was located in England and this is being air-freighted to Auckland with the intention of racing against the clock to have the new engine fitted and the aircraft flying in time to make its public debut at Omaka this coming Easter.

If the Strikemaster succeeds in making its first public appearance at the Classic Fighters Airshow in Blenheim over the Easter weekend, 22nd to 24th April, it will be the first time an RNZAF combat jet has displayed in public for a decade, since the last Skyhawk display at a major airshow event, which was coincidentally at the inaugural Classic Fighters Omaka airshow held over Easter 2001. Only at Omaka!


Spitfires in Stereo!

spitfire tr9spitfire mk9

That most iconic of World War Two fighter aircraft is set to appear at Classic Fighters this coming Easter with not one but TWO of these fabulous Roll-Royce powered thoroughbreds streaking through the skies of Marlborough!

Visitors to the last Classic Fighters airshow in 2009 were thrilled to witness the international debut of the freshly restored Spitfire Mk.IX of Brendon Deere, restored in the markings of the aircraft flown by his famous uncle, and Battle of Britain veteran Al Deere. This year, Classic Fighters patrons will witness another significant debut, that of Doug Brooker’s rare two-seat Spitfire Tr.IX, making its first appearance at a major New Zealand airshow. Doug’s Spitfire has been finished in the colours of an aircraft flown by another famous Kiwi ‘ace’, Colin Grey. If all goes to plan, BOTH Spitfires will fly together for the first time in public during Easter 2011 and visitors to Classic Fighters will be witnesses to this significant event.

Bringing these two aircraft together in the skies over Omaka Airfield will be all the more significant as Alan Deere and Colin Grey were best friends for much of their lives and even served as ‘best men’ at eachother’s weddings, so it will be quite something to reflect on these two great aviators as we witness ‘their’ two Spitfires flying alongside eachother for the first time in over six decades. It is set to be a very touching occasion!

Classic Fighters organizers are thrilled and privileged to be able to debut this pair of significant fighters seen together at last, and only at Omaka!


February 2011

The Return of the Luftwaffe!

Oct Gold special

At the outbreak of World War Two, the forces of Nazi Germany enjoyed dramatic success due to the air supremecy quickly gained by the German Air Force, known in that country as the Luftwaffe. As the war raged on, the word Luftwaffe engendered fear in whole nations just as the machinery of that powerful air arm could strike fear in the hearts of every citizen. Names like Messerschmitt, Focke Wulf, Junkers all became household names. If all goes according to plan, for the first time ever, the southern hemisphere is to see representative examples of aircraft from all three of these German companies, on the flightline together at Classic Fighters.

CF’11 organisers are waiting with baited breath for the arrival in March of the Focke-Wulf Fw190, nick-named the ‘Butcher Bird’ by the allies during WW-II. The aircraft has just completed several years of rework in Germany before being packed into a container and shipped to its Kiwi owner who will base the aircraft permanently at Omaka. No example of this menacing aircraft, broadly accepted as the best fighter produced by axis powers during WW-II, has ever been seen flying in the southern hemisphere so its debut at Classic Fighters will make it one of the key stars of the show.

Supporting this distinctive machine will be the return of the Messerschmitt Me108 which has been a feature of the Classic Fighters event since the inaugural show in 2001. Although used as a communications aircraft and VIP transport during the war, the aircraft regularly supports the theatrical side of the show as it stands in for its similar looking brother, the Messerschmitt Me109 fighter this being all the more realistic as the aircraft fires its very audible and visual guns from the leading edges of both wings.

Adding to the threesome is the resident replica of the hugely feared Junkers Ju87B ‘Stuka’ dive-bomber. The Stuka was almost completed in time for last year’s show when it was displayed as a ‘Piciatelli’, the name given to the Stuka when operated by the Italian Air Force. Volunteers are just now putting the finishing touches on the Stuka, finally finished in the colours that most represents the way the aircraft would have looked during the height of its success with the Luftwaffe.

Hopefully, all three of this menacing trio will be on the field in time for the show this Easter, representing the largest gathering of representative Luftwaffe aircraft ever to participate in an airshow in the southern hemisphere, and coming together this Easter – only at Omaka!

spitfire over hillsCatalina over water











Avro Anson's second engine runs for the first time.

A few of the usual suspects gathered to see the Avro Anson's second engine burst into life for the first time at Omaka yesterday. Is always very cool to see history being made. Well done to Bill, Don and the rest of the team.
So now we have two engines for a very historic aircraft, exciting times ahead.

Boeing Stearman

Our latest Omaka resident having its first engine run. (8th February 2011)
The 450hp three-seat Boeing Stearman was recently shipped over from California, and has undergone rigorous checks & assembly by the team at JEM Aviation, and is now just a few weeks from seeking CAA approval which will hopefully make way for flying in early March. (Certainly in time for Classic Fighters Omaka 2011.) The 'Super Stearman' will provide aerobatic joy flights based out of Omaka, (Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand).


Companies get behind famous aircraft in support of Classic Fighters

spitfire over hillsCatalina over water

Visitors to the Classic Fighters Airshow this coming Easter will be privileged to witness the largest gathering of historic aircraft to be seen anywhere in the southern hemisphere this year, this occasion made possible by support from local businesses.

One of the major highlights of the show in 2009 was the debut of the just restored Spitfire Mk.IX owned by Brendon Deere of Marton and restored in honour of his famous uncle, New Zealand ‘ace’ fighter pilot, Alan Deere. This exquisite fighter will be returning to Omaka this year, this time with help from Marlborough tractor distributor Gordon Handy Machinery Ltd., in conjunction with John Deere Tractors. Research has identified a link between the New Zealand Deere family, and the world famous tractor manufacturer whose founder, John Deere, formed the company in 1837 to build plows. Both branches of the family can be traced back to Tipperary, Ireland. Interestingly, the John Deere Company has some connection with aviation, having built munitions as well as aircraft parts during WW-II.

Marlborough based wine producer Catalina Sounds is another company that has identified the Classic Fighters show as an iconic event, worthy of support, whilst also capable of growing their business with a significant level of exposure to new markets. To bring this point home they have come on board to sponsor the appearance of the remarkable Catalina flying boat which will wear the name ‘Catalina Sounds’ emblazoned across its nose. The attractive and unusually configured Catalina was used by the RNZAF during WW-II as a maritime patrol bomber. These remarkable aircraft had the ability to stay aloft for 48 hours at a time and were put to many uses including anti-submarine warfare and air-sea rescue. This year the Catalina is scheduled to attend just one airshow this year, so you will see it, but only at Omaka!

Another company that has always supported the event is JEM Aviation at Omaka. For each airshow, company CEO Jay McIntyre agrees to service several of the WW-I aircraft from the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and bring their maintenance up to ‘currency’ so that they can be certified ready to fly for the show. Without JEM Aviation’s input, the show would not be able to host the amazing ‘Magnificent Seven’ collection of Fokker Triplanes. This display is unique to Omaka and enthusiasts from around the globe come to Blenheim just to see this amazing collection of 21 cloth-covered wings in the air together!

Many visitors to the Classic Fighters Airshow are not aware that the event has to pay ‘serious money’ to have exotic historic aircraft on display. The World War Two fighters typically cost up to $100 a minute to fly, and this means that money needs to be found by the volunteer organizers not just to have the aIrcraft display, but also to have them fly to and from the airshow, so it is not unusual for a Spitfire or Mustang to be priced at over $20,000 to participate in the event. Those same volunteers also receive no funding from outside sources such as central or local government to help run the show, so it is the businesses that get in behind the event which are the real heroes of the piece!

The Classic Fighters airshow is conservatively expected to attract between 40 and 50,000 visitors this year making it the largest event to take place in the history of Marlborough. This represents a huge boost to the regional economy as well as a great opportunity to create a favourable impression of the region and what it has to offer. With enthusiastic tourists coming from all over New Zealand and from right around the world, companies are asking how they might best gain exposure from this rare opportunity.

There are still some iconic aircraft from both world wars, available to be linked to interested companies which can get in touch with the Classic Fighters airshow to arrange such connections with these aircraft. Call Kate O’Sullivan on 021 034 3911.


January 2011

The Return of The Magnificent Seven!

7 Triplanes flying7 Triplanes parked

Enthusiasts attending the Classic Fighters airshow this coming Easter will be thrilled to learn that the show is to host a return appearance of the fabulous collection of SEVEN Fokker Dr.1 Triplanes operated by The Vintage Aviator Ltd.

Visitors to the 2007 Classic Fighters show were amazed to see this many examples of the distinctive three-winged fighting scout made famous by Manfred von Richthofen, the famous ‘Red Baron’ during the latter part of the Great War. The collection of Triplanes all appeared in the colours of Jasta 11 when led by von Richthofen in his all red Fokker. That many Triplanes had not been seen together anywhere since 1918, and in fact, the seven have not been assembled again since that Easter in 2007, so this will be a rare and rewarding opportunity to witness this amazing spectacle one more time, as a part of the Great War part of the airshow programme.

Classic Fighters Airshow Chairman Graham Orphan said about the Triplanes, “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to see these machines in the air together again. The Fokker Triplane is such a distinctive shape and such an iconic symbol of the Great War in the air that to see one in flight is a treat, more than one, a delight, but SEVEN in the air together is just remarkable and represents a great privilege for all who attend the show”.

It is expected that over a dozen WW-I aircraft will participate in the show with mock dogfights coupled with dramatic ground theatre to provide a unique and creative theatrical experience – something for which the Classic Fighters airshow has become famous right around the globe.

The collection of Triplanes is normally split between the Aviation Heritage Centre at Omaka and Hood Aerodrome in the lower North Island and as stated above, have only been gathered together once before, and only at Omaka!


Three months till Easter!

mossie jan left7 Triplanes parked

We are now just three months out from the 2011 Classic Fighters Easter Airshow and the excitement keeps building as we continue to head towards what is looking to be the largest gathering of military aircraft types from both world wars, in addition to all of the rest of the vintage, classic, current military and show aircraft in attendance.

Over the next few weeks we will be launching a number of press releases about the aircraft line-up and other aspects of the show. As time has gone by we have been thrilled to be able to add further to the range of exotic machines either coming or anticipated to be completed in time to make their debuts at the show.

One aircraft that has attracted considerable anticipation for all of us is Jerry Yagen's de Havilland Mosquito, KA114. That aircraft, whilst continuing to make steady progress with the team at Avspecs, is unfortunately looking less likely to be completed in time for the show. We are still hopeful of course, and it will be a close run thing either way, but we don't want to disappoint anyone so whilst we're not ruling out the participation of this significant machine, we're also wanting to be realistic about the possibility that it might not make it to the event.

In the meantime, there are other opportunities opening up and we'll soon be able to throw the spotlight on some exciting displays that we are expecting will be available to be seen over Easter whilst many other debut aircraft that have appeared in the Classic Fighters Airshow website news pages are on track and it's worth noting that none of these will be seen anywhere else this year.


December 2010

Boeing Stearman

Stearman frontStearman side

Thursday 16th December saw a container arrive at Omaka, fresh from northern California. This soon resulted in a crowd from neighbouring hangars etc there to help unload a very special Boeing Stearman, this machine being one of the few FAA approved modifications to produce a three-seat Stearman for use in adventure flying. A P&W R.985 radial of 450hp powers this big beast and it is intended that once it has been assembled and achieved CAA certification, it will be available in conjunction with the Marlborough Aero Club for biplane experience rides for visitors to the Omaka AHC. Whilst not a 'head-line exhibit' for this year's Classic Fighters Airshow, the Stearman will non-the-less make its first public appearance in New Zealand at that event adding yet more colour and variety to the line-up as well as providing yet another aircraft that no-one in NZ has seen before!

FW-190a Focke Wulf

This footage was provided to us courtesy of FlugWerk, Germany and was recorded in mid December 2010. This FW-190a is the first of the FlugWerk batch of Focke Wulfs built and as such, was the first 'Butcher Bird' to take to the skies since the WW-II era. This occurred in 2004. The aeroplane has enjoyed considerable re-work over the past year or two, incorporating a number of mods and upgrades and is now complete and running beautifully, however bad weather has precluded any flying in Germany so it is anticipated it will now be shipped direct to NZ to continue its test flying programme from Omaka so that it can make it's planned international airshow debut at Classic Fighters Omaka, Easter 2011.


November 2010


Strike flyingStrike Container

Strikemaster to debut at Omaka!!

During mid September, Brett Nicholls of Auckland and Graham Orphan of Omaka started working on a plan to bring a former RNZAF 'Bluntie' back to New Zealand in time to debut at the Classic FIghters Omaka Easter Airhsow. With all planning in place, the deal was concluded and by the end of November, NZ6370 was being disassembled for shipment back to New Zealand.

Perhaps not as globally significant as our other planned 'Debutantes', the Strikemaster is an important type in New Zealand and a reminder of those halcyon days before the Air Strike Wing was shutdown by regrettable government policy. It will be very special to see an RNZAF combat jet back in New Zealand skies!!

Our congratulations to Brett Nicholls!


October 2010

Oct Gold special


September 2010


Yak 3 EngineYak 3 - JEM

Continuing to make brilliant progress at the JEM Aviation hangars is the Yakovlev Yak-3. It is hard to believe that just two months ago, this was a bare steel tube frame awaiting painting! Now the fuselage is permanently mounted on the wing, the rear fuselage 'sock' is now fitted permanently and the newly overhauled engine has been installed. Systems installation was already well underway before the aft fuselage cone was fitted and this work continues as pneumatic lines, fuel and oil lines and the limited amount of hydraulic plumbing is installed. The newly overhauled propeller has also been delivered from the Safe Air prop-shop at nearby Woodbourne and awaits installation. This aircraft will definitely be seen at the Classic Fighters airshow next year, since it is already at Omaka, and if all continues at the current pace, there is no reason to doubt that it will be completed in time to make its flying debut at the show.

Avro Anson

The fabulous Avro Anson restoration being undertaken by Bill Reid and his team near Nelson NZ reached a milestone on Sunday 19th September when the first engine came to life in the airframe. Overhauled by Don McKenzie, the Cheetah IX had already been extensively run in the test stand but this first run installed in the airframe brings this significant restoration one step closer to completion and if all goes to plan, to making its worldwide airshow debut at the Classic Fighters 2011 airshow at Omaka. We can't speak highly enough of the dedication of Bill, Robyn, Martin, Toby, Don and all of the team who have worked towards bringing this magnificent aircraft back to life.
(Refer Classic Wings magazines issues #45 and #68 for features showing progress and details of this remarkable restoration.


Restoration Row - Yak-9V

Yak 9 HangarYak 9 Art

A popular feature at Classic Fighters Airshows is the hangar display called 'Restoration Row' in which a sampling of the broad range of project aircraft taking place around the airfield are brought out of their hangars and displayed for all to see. Over two dozen such projects are underway at and around Omaka so only a selection will be displayed. Next year, JEM Aviation will be displaying the Allison V-12 powered Yak-9V dual control fighter on behalf of its new owners, the 9V Consortium Ltd. This exciting development has resulted from the floating of a new ownership group in July, one which has since grown rapidly with just a handful of shares remaining. Restoration of this aircraft is already well underway, and JEM Aviation anticipate beginning the next stage of progress just as their current Yak-3 fighter project nears completion in the early months of 2011. Exciting times ahead! If you're interested in joining the Yak-9V sydicate, click here for more details.

Bristol Freighter

Bristol engine runBristol smoke

Bristol Freighter ZK-CPT made its 'taxiing debut' at Classic Fighters Omaka 2009, surprising everyone when it launched over a dozen Vespas out of its front doors! After resolving a long-standing glitch with the starboard engine recently, Al and Marty gave the old girl the gas and both engines roared into life again. Al has something else entirely in mind for ZK-CPT at next year's show. You'd better be there to see it!


August 2010

De Havilland Mosquito

Mosquito enginesMossie cockpit

Great expectation surrounds the magnificent de Havilland Mosquito being restored for Jerry Yagen by Warren Denholm and the team at AvSpecs at Ardmore. Warren is determined to ‘pull all the stops’ to have the aircraft completed in time for the Easter air show. It was critical that the second overhauled Merlin engine arrive no later than the expected September time frame, however the good news is that the folks at Vintage V-12s in California completed the engine in good time and by early August it was already at the AvSpecs hangar and was being offered up to the airframe. The team at AvSpecs produce stunning work, as evidenced by the number of ‘Silver Wrench’ awards issued at Oshkosh, the latest this August for the Dragon Rapide the team restored – also for Jerry Yagen.


YAK3 Al MarshallYAK3 undercarriage

The Russian Yak-3 being rebuilt for the syndicate led by Graeme Frew is also making great progress at JEM Aviation right here at Omaka. The extensive work required to re-engineer the fuselage to accommodate the second seat has now been completed and the frame painted signalling the 'green light' for all the overhauled items on the shelf to be refitted permanently. As of mid-August, the fuselage has been reattached permanently to the completed wings, and fit-out is now well underway. The newly overhauled Allison engine has also arrived and awaits installation.

Avro Anson

Anson engineAnson fuselage

Also making steady progress is Bill Reid’s remarkable Avro Anson Mk.I. As most people who follow this site would be aware, this will be the world’s sole flyable Anson Mk.I when completed, but it is the attention to the minutest detail not just of the aircraft restoration but also of the various extraneous pieces of period equipment that have been sourced to make this aircraft operationally complete. We visited Bill, Martin and Robyn in mid August to monitor the excellent progress that is being made. The first overhauled Cheetah engine has been completed by Don McKenzie at Omaka and has been transported to Wakefield where installation in the airframe is now well underway. The outer wings have been completed & painted and now await installation. The remaining work will mostly all focus on systems and the installation of the second engine, due towards the end of the year.

Sopwith Pup

Sopwith pup imageSopwith pup2

The next interesting first flight to occur at Omaka is likely to be the Sopwith Pup of the Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection. Recent engine runs have shown the original 80hp Le Rhone rotary to be running beautifully and the aircraft is just now awaiting CAA inspection before the first test flight takes place. This replica is quite historic in its own right, having been built in 1961 by Joe Pfeiffer in California. One of the earliest pioneers of WW-I aircraft replica building, Joe was also responsible for two Nieuport 11s, one of which has appeared at the last two Classic Fighters air shows courtesy of the TVAL collection. The pup's scheduled to make its public flying debut at next year's Classic Fighters airshow. What better way to celebrate its 50th birthday!

Omaka's Nieuports

Omaka NieuportsRotec engine

Expected to fly a little further down the track are the two Nieuports that share a hangar adjacent to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. There are of course, two Nieuports already displayed at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, these being the flying Nieuport 24 and the static Nieuport 27 that lives 'in the tree' (if you have not seen this display, it is time that you did!) The latest two Omaka Nieuports comprise the Nieuport N.11 of Graham and Jane Orphan and N.16 of Eric Driver, Brian Greenall and Rex Handley. Both replicas are to be completed with the Rotec R.2800 radial engine of 110 hp. During August, the two brand new engines and their propellers arrived from Australia for installation in the two Nieuports. It is hoped that at least one of these will be flying in time to add some colour to the proceedings at Classic Fighters 2011.

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