Home Pauline Howto Articles Uniquely NZ Small Firms Search
Warbirds Over Wanaka 2016 - II
(Touring New Zealand - part 17)

Introduction to Part 2 of Warbirds over Wanaka

The last part of our coverage of Warbirds over Wanaka ended with the Second World War Fighters. We now continue with the WW2 Bombers, Reconnaisance, Transport aircraft and Trainers moving forwards in time. Classic Aircraft, Aerobatic displays, Light Sport Aircraft and the 'Set Piece Battles' are also in this part.

Grumman Avenger

This was a historically significant aircraft, the high powered Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber was the largest single engine aircraft of its time. The Grumman Avenger was an important RNZAF type from the Pacific campaign. This example was built in 1945 and allocated to the US Navy at San Diego. It was later used for crop spraying trials before it was retired and eventually restored by the Old Flying Machine Company in the UK before returning to New Zealand. These high powered, rugged machines were designed as carrier-born torpedo bombers and have folding wings.

Avro Anson 652A MK.1 Series II

The Avro Anson was a coastal bomber that entered service in 1936 performing anti-submarine and convoy protection duties. It was the first monoplane combat aircraft and the first to have a retracting undercarriage.

Around 11,000 were produced betweeen 1935 and 1952 built in England. The Avro Mk1 MH-120 flew extensivley in WWII and Australia then operated post war as a passenger and freight hauler between Melbourne and Tasmania. Powered by Armstrong Siddley Cheetah IX and XIX seven cylinder engines, it has a wingspan of 17.5m and is the only remaining wartime Avro Anson MK.1 that is airworthy.

Consolidated PBY Catalina

First flown in 1936, the Catalina was designed as a long range maritime patrol and attack aircraft. The RNZAF operated 56 examples in the Pacific during and after WWII. Stablisiing floats, which, when retracted in flight formed streamlined wing-tips, were unique innovations which made this aircraft ideal for use in the surveillance, anti-submarine, air/sea rescue and convoy patrol roles. They had an endurance of 23 hours and often carried two crews. This aircraft, ZK-PBY, was purchased by the Catalina Group and arrived in New Zealand in 1994. There are more pictures taken at Wanaka Lakeside above

Douglas C-47 Dakota (DC-3)

The C47, the militarised version of the DC3 with minor changes and bigger engines served in World War II , Korea and Vietnam and was a favourite among pilots. For more than 70 years, the aircraft known by a variety of nicknames - the Doug, the Dizzy, Old Methuselah, the Gooney Bird (US Air Force), the Grand Old Lady - but which to most of us simply the Dakota has been the workhorse of the skies and there are still many in service now.

With its distinctive nose-up profile when on the ground and extraordinary capabilities in the air, it transformed passenger travel and served in just about every military conflict from World War II onwards. There were two at the show, one belonging to the Warbirds Association and based at Ardmore and the other is in service with Chatham Airways. They were both offering flights after the show and we might well have flown in one if we had not already secured a ride in the Catalina.

The Warbirds Association aircraft was manufactured as a C-47B by Douglas Aircraft, and delivered in October 1944. During World War 2 it served with various USAAF Units and Squadrons in the Continental United States before being converted to a C-47D in1946. During the Korean war it was based in Japan and the Philippines. In April 1959 it went to Philippines Airlines on their first international service from Manila to Hong Kong. It served in New Guinea before appearing in Australia flying for Bush Pilot Airlines and Queensland Airlines. In 1983 it was retired to the Mackay Air Museum and flew as "Gooney Bird Tours" in Northern Queensland before being retired as a static exhibit.

It was purchased by a New Zealand Warbird's group in 1987, re-registered ZK-DAK and underwent an extensive rebuild. The aircraft was initially painted in the colour scheme used by the RAF and other allied air forces during the invasion of Normandy and at Arnheim during World War II. Today, the aircraft operates from Ardmore under the ‘FlyDC3’ banner having had a completely new exterior livery applied in 2007 to represent NZ3546 from 42 Squadron at the time of its retirement from RNZAF service in 1977 when it was one of the last two DC3’s serving in the RNZAF.

We must drop by Ardmore in the future and have a flight.

Vampire and Strikemaster

The Vampire was only the second jet to enter service with the Allies. It used a similar construction to the Mosquito with a plywood skins with a balsa core, in fact the front of the latter training versions looks very like the Mosquito. It was powered by an Goblin jet engine employing a centrifugal compressor with 16 flame cans. Because the thrust of early turbojet engines was far from adequate (initially 3100 lb thrust, the Vampire was designed to make the most of what was on offer. By keeping the jet intake ducts and exhaust nozzle as short as possible, power loss was kept to a minimum. This led to the very distinctive short fuselage, twin-boom design of the Vampire. It was capable of 540 mph. The aircraft's standard armament was four 20 mm Hispano cannons mounted under the nose. By the time production finally ended, 3,269 Vampires had been built in England and a further 1,067 built under licence abroad of which nearly athousand were trainer versions. For what was essentially a World War Two era design, the aircraft had surprisingly longevity with large numbers still in service in several air forces in the 1980s. The Swiss Air Force was the last Vampire user, retiring their sizeable fleet of FB.6s and T.55s from active service as late as 1990.

Two New Zealand Trainee Vampires flew a formation aerobatic display with two Strikemasters whose main use was as a trainee aircraft although it was used also in a combat role. One T55 belongs to and was flown by Brett Emeny who was also the Pilot of our flight in the Catalins. The RNZAF had 16 strikemasters, the first batch being delivered in 1972. All were based in Ohakea and were used for Jet conversion and advance pilot training. The Strikemaster was affectionally known as the 'blunty' because of its nose shape. Most of the ex RNZAF Strikemasters now form part of the Australian Warbirds community but three are still flying in New Zealand. They put on a very professional and tight display every day, all the more impressive because the early jet engines in Vampire were very slow to respond. The Vampires also had very long ground runs, probably the longest of any aircraft in the show even off tarmac.

North American Harvard

In RNZAF service as a pilot trainer for more than three decades. The Harvard was first flown in 1937. Known as the Harvard in the British Commonwealth, T-6 Texan in the USAF and SNU by the US Navy, over 21,000 were built. The Harvard was used as the primary trainer for most Commonwealth Aircrew during WWII after they had flown solo in the Tiger Moth. Fully aerobatic, it was a delight to fly but not too fast for the novice who one day would move onto single seat fighter aircraft. We have seen the Roaring Forties Harvard aerobatic teams many times before including at the Art Deco Festival at Napier so we took few extra pictures. They always put on a good tight display.

de Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk

The de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk is a tandem, two-seat, single-engined primary trainer aircraft which was the standard primary trainer for the Royal Canadian Airforce, Royal Airforce and several other airforces through much of the post-Second World War years. The de Havilland Chipmunk was the first postwar aviation project of de Havilland Canada. Today, over 500 DHC-1 Chipmunk airframes remain airworthy with more being rebuilt every year. The solo display was one of the nicest to watch, very precise and compact from its young owner.

YAK 52 and the Formation Aerobatic Team

The Yak52 is a tandem two-seater Russian air trainer with a 360 HP Vedeneyev M14P radial engine. It has a top speed of 220 knots (420 km/hr) and can withstand extreme G Forces, from -5 to +7. The aircraft can land with the landing gear in the up position. Although this isn't too healthy for the wooden propeller, taking about 15-16 centimetres off it but apparently it can still fly in that condition. The engine start, flaps, brakes and landing gear are all pneumaticly or air operated, helping the YAK52 operate in the cold Russian climate. Starting also uses compressed air injected into the engine. Rumour has it that the fuel tank was small to prevent Russian pilots from defecting to the West.

T-6C Texan II

The Hawker Beechcraft Defense Company, LLC T-6C Texan II is a single-engine, turboprop aircraft built in the USA as a reliable, low maintenance military trainer for Airforces. With a top speed of 316 knots, limits of +7g to -3.5, it is equally adept at teaching the most advanced aerobatic maneouvres and simulated combat training tasks that could previously only be accomplished in far more expensive aircraft. The T-6C military trainer is used to train pilots, navigators and weapon system officers from more than twenty different countries from around the world. It is just entering service and gave a very disappointing aerobatic display by a solo aecraft - bring back the Red Chequers. They however promise they will have a full team in a years time called the Black Falcons.

Air Bandits
Juka - Jurgis Kairys

The "flying entertainment package" concept was designed by Jurgis Kairys to perform a new and refreshingly different style of airshow display. This aircraft, on a diversity of flight paths produce lots of noise, lots of smoke and what Jurgis himself calls, 'well organized chaos'. Jurgis was born in Siberia and brought up in Lithuania. He graduated as an aircraft engineer, in airframes, and commenced flying training. He helped develop the Sukhoi 26, 29 and 31 aerobatic aircraft. Following his collaborative work on the Sukhoi, Jurgis took the next step developing his own JUKA aircraft. He has also invented several aerobatic manoeuvres that take great skill to perform. These include the Slide Pass, Kairys Wheel and the Small Loop. He was the first person to successfully perform the Cobra manoeuvre in a propeller aircraft and the first pilot to ever hover his aircraft like a helicopter. Jurgis’ achievements were recognised by the Lithuanian Prime Minister when he was presented with the Sports Glory Commodore Cross in 2012. Jurgis Kairys aircraft is the Juka designed by himself with a 9 cylinder M14P radial engine and he was partnered by Rob Fry in a Sukhoi 29. Jurgis routinely pulls 10g during his displays without a pressure suit. During the lunchtimes he put on some spectacular races against a racing motor bike, his high g turns giving him the edge on the back and forth course.

Classic Aircraft

Beechcraft Staggerwing Model 17

One of the most distinctive and iconic aircraft of the 1930's was the Beechcraft Model 17. It was known as the “Staggerwing” because of its negatively staggered upper mainplaneand was one of the first private aircraft to incorporate retractable landing gear allowing a cruise speed of over 200 m.p.h. This Staggerwing, VH-UXP , a C17B, was the first imported into Australia in 1936 and had a colourful history that included service with both the RAAF and General Douglas MacArthur's, American division based within Australia during World War II hence I had put it with the Warbirds although it was never designed as a military aircraft, it was the 'exectuve jet' when it was conceived in the 30s. The Auckland Aero Club, for example, purchased a C17L model for use as a high speed air ambulance and executive transport. Post war, VH-UXP enjoyed many years of private use until being brought to New Zealand for a “ground-up” restoration. This was completed in 2013, with the Staggerwing being returned to the identical condition in which it left the Beechcraft factory in 1936. It has its original registration, colour scheme, cockpit instrumentation and interior appointments - a beautiful aircraft on the ground and flying - way before its time.

Beechcraft Model 18 (or Twin Beech)

The Beechcraft Model 18 (or Twin Beech) as it is also know is a 6 to 11-seat, twin-engined light aircraft manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corporation. Continously produced for over 32 years, over 9,000 were made, making it one of the world's most widely used light aircraft. The airctaft here was purchased in the USA and flown across the Pacific in a series of hops.

de Haviland Dominie and de Haviland Fox Moth

We had seen both of these at Mandeville earlier this holiday and I tried to get a flight there for Pauline and I in the Fox Moth but the Pilot vailable was awaiting the paperwork to fly for reward - a great shame as it was only $60 to fly in a very unique aircraft. The Dominie is, as far as I can tell, almost identical the The Dragon Rapide I flew in at Oxford on the Green where it was used a parachuting aircraft, the Dragon Rapide was known as the Dominie in military service.

Current Military Transports

I have put these down the list as there can be little more boring than watching Military Transports such as the C130, C-17 Globemaster III and the CASA CN-235-300 which at least had the interest of coming all the way from France. There will some interesting pictures to follow including one of the propeller vortices from the CASA on take off the first day. pauline spent a lot of time talking French to the Pilot

Light Sport Aviation

Light Sport Aviation is now a big thing in New Zealand. It is very different from the original Microlights and Motor Gliders from which it has developed but shares the delegation from the CAA to recreational bodies such as the RAANZ (Recreational Aircraft Association of New Zealand) and much less onerous licence and airworthiness requirements allowing powered recreational flying to once more become affordable and extend to include Helicopter, Gyrocopters and potentially Jet Packs. The major restrictions are Stall Speeds under 45 knots, all up weight under 600 kgs, cruise speed under 120 knots, max of two people and no night flying or instrument flying. The new generation of Light Sport Aircraft fly faster than traditional Cessna and Piper "General Aviation" aircraft, while offering improved handling quality, reliability and running cost efficiency. Most modern microlight aeroplanes today can comfortably travel at speeds around 100-120 knots (180-220km/h) and have an endurance in excess of four hours whilst running on standard petrol rather (mogas instead of avgas). Some even come equipped with retractable undercarriages and autopilots. Although nothing really to do with Warbirds there were many on show in the display areas and partaking in the STOL competition.

STOL Aircraft Competition

The short take of and landing competition was a highlight but difficult to get meaningful photographs - the final dayI took lot of video but how it will come out is another story. The best take off and landing were 29 and 30 metres on a day with little if any wind. Most of the aircraft were in the sport category and we had a good look round them over lunchtime.

Martin Jetpack

The Martin Jetpack is described as a disruptive technology, much like the helicopter was when first developed, with substantial capabilities and is it is able to be both flown by a pilot or via remote control. The Jetpack can take off and land vertically (VTOL) and because of its small dimensions, it can operate in confined spaces such as close to or between buildings, near trees or in confined areas that other VTOL aircraft such as helicopters cannot access. Itwas demonstarated over lunch but only in the remote controlled mode as there is a height restriction of 3 metres over land and 18 metres over water until a specialballistic parachute is fitted. It should be veryeasy to fly as it has an autopilot/fly by wire system to allow the unmanned operation. It is conceived that in the case of emergency response in areas with restricted access a pilot could bring several unmanned ones in and use them to get casualties out of up to 120 kgs out. It should also appeal to the sport market as qualifications should be easy to obtain compaired to a convebtional helecopter and it should be great fun. It is powered by a specially designed ie non-standard engine giving 200 hp which was unbelievably noisy in the demonstration, we can see why it was described as disruptive, but hopefully that can improved in the latter versions for recreational use.

Set Piece Displays

Flying in the Catalina

After the displays had all finished on the final day, Sunday, we were booked for our flight in the Catalina. We have both flown in her several times before for short (half hour) trips and Pete had a long flight from Admore down to Napier as his 60th birthday present. But this was our first chance to have a landing, or more likely, touch and go on water. In the event it was a touch and go and it was all so smooth that we hardly felt the point where we touched - we knew it was only going to be a touch and go as the wing tip floats were still in the up position. We were flown by Brett Emeny who had just got out of the cockpit of his Vampire T55, quite a contrast to fly. He is the chief training pilot on the Catalina and founder member of the group. We have writen about the Catalina and flying on her before so for the most part we will restrict this to some pictures as the flight is not strictly part of the Warbirds over Wanaka airshow but I should make the point that flights are not 'commercial' but are 'cost sharing' where the pilot and crew all contribute along with the passengers. It was a real priviledge to fly on her again so soon after she has returned to the air after the 4 years of refurbishment and restoration and to have a touch and go on the lake was icing on the cake. Enjoy the pictures.

Home Pauline Howto Articles Uniquely NZ Small Firms Search
Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Content revised: 22nd April, 2016