• Omaka Airshow 2013

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Omaka Airshow 2013

We returned to New Zealand in 2013, and once again visited the South Island.

In Blenheim we planned to visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, but we found that we could not do that. As it happened, the Omaka Air Show was on, and many of the museum exhibits were actually participating in the air show. The museum was temporarily closed. So, we went to the air show.

What a happy chance that was. The air show was magnificent.

The Great War and the Golden Age

The Wright brothers first flew in December 1903. The First World War began in July 1914, only a little more than 10 years later. By modern standards, aircraft design was still very primitive. But despite the scepticism of senior military officers, the advantages of aircraft as military weapons became apparrent and design and development of aircraft was rapid.

After the end of WWI development continued and many interesting and imaginative designs resulted.

The Great War

At the Omaka airshow there was a great deal from the First World War, not merely static displays but whole teams of flying replicas.

They were all on display on the ground, but later in the day they all flew and some put on a mock battle display in the air, complete with evil clouds of black smoke.

Aircraft included Fokker biplanes and triplanes, Sopwith Camels, Tripanes and Pups, and a Bristol Biplane.

The film director Peter Jackson is an avid collector of WWI memorabilia, and a number of the aircraft came from his collection. (There is an excellent documentary "Peter Jackson's Military Treasures" available on YouTube.)

The Golden Age between the wars

After the initial impetus given to aircraft design by the demands of WWI, a great deal of further progress was made in designs that were intended for civilian use, or for non-fighting roles in the military.

At the airshow we saw ground and flying displays of de Haviland Fox Moth, Tiger Moth, Gypsy Moth, Dragon, Chipmunk and Beaver. From Piper we saw the Super Cub, Pacer and Grasshopper. There was also a Cessna Bird Dog, a Beechcraft Staggerwing and a Douglas DC3.

World War Two and Postwar

World War 2 began in 1939, only 20 years after the end of WWI. In the Golden Age between the wars, military fighter aircraft had also evolved. Fighter aircraft were very different.

World War Two

In the air and on the ground there was an impressive display of World War Two fighter aircraft. Curtiss Kittyhawk, North American Mustang, Yakoviev Yak-3, Fock Wulf 190, Supermarine Spitfire, and North American Corsair. There was also a Messerschmitt 108 (included because it was a close relative of the 109) and an Avro Anson reconnaisance and trainer aircraft.


Not a huge number of aircraft representing the period after the Second World War. Mostly the New Zealand Air Force and Navy showing off their helicopters, transport, and trainers. Plus a couple of oddball entries - an ASH 25 glider and an AESL Airtourer.

Aerobatic Displays

Like any air show, Omaka put on all sorts of arial displays throughout the day. There were many different aerobatic teams using different aircraft, many of which used smoke trails to demonstrate what maneouvres they had exectuted. All were very good.

The Aerobats

First up was the RNZAF "Kiwi Blue" parachute team. Doug Brooker showed off his MX2. And a team of four Yak-52s decked out in colourful paint jobs put on a spectactular display. A team of five Harvard trainers did likewise.

Not to be outdone, the New Zealand Air Force came back with their team of five Airtrainers - the "Red Checkers."

The final display by a non-fighting aircraft was by a solitary Pitts Model 12.


We were not too clear on the relevance to an airshow, but Omaka 2013 included a display of old vehicles, including cars, tractors, trucks and a couple of reproduction tanks. So, to round off a long and wonderful day, we toured around the old vehicles...


Unfortunately now, long after the event, I realize I omitted to note what each of these vehicles was. So, you are on your own.