2017 CLASSIC FIGHTERS AIRSHOW
Well as we're now a year out from the next epic Classic Fighters Airshow, what can you expect to see at the 2017 event? Well it's early days yet so we're not ready to release our entire aircraft line-up for next year's show, but to give you a taste of what we're all about, here is a bit of an outline of what we have in mind, along with some photos of aircraft we have featured over the last two CF events!
Huge thanks to resident aviation photographer and CF Airshow sponsor Gavin Conroy of Classic Aircraft Photography for supplying the bulk of these images.
THE PIONEER RACE
We're pleased to announce that the amazing 'Pioneer Race' that was itself 'pioneered' at the Easter 2015 show, will be back, and will be bigger and better next year! This entertaining event took the form of a team relay race set around 1910 and commencing with three runners in period clothing who sprinted their course along the crowd-line, tagged the three penny farthing racers who pedalled back on the reciprocal path to then tag the veteran car drivers who cranked up their original veteran cars and again followed the same course back in the opposite direction in order to then tag the 'aeronauts' who were waiting in three rickety flying machines ready to start their part of the race! This contest was fantastic to watch, even though it was a touch fraught with incident for the flying machines. All ended happily however despite one aeronaut being carried from his broken, smoking aircraft! You had to be there!
Classic Fighters was proud to be the first event in the Southern Hemisphere to host a dedicated WW-I battle sequence involving multiple aeroplanes, military vehicles and sets back in 2001. We have taken great delight in growing this aspect of the show ever since. Classic Fighters takes place here at Omaka Airfield, Blenheim, New Zealand, which is also home to the internationally renowned Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. Stage One of the museum display, entitled 'Knights of the Sky' opened in 2006 and is a dedicated tribute to the Great War in the air, displaying over 20 WW-I aircraft in a wonderful environment, beautifully created by the talented artists from Wingnut Films and Weta Workshops, and supported by the most amazing display of genuine WW-I artefacts. This display is open every day providing a wonderful opportunity to absorb some of the most engaging human stories about flying in WW-I and is a must-see display during your visit (you may wish to plan an extra day outside airshow days to see this properly).
The Second World War segment of Classic Fighters 2017 will be supported as always by a great variety of combat aircraft from the era. A star of the show this year will be the remarkable Yakovlev Yak-3UPW 'Steadfast', a multi-record-breaking racer brought from Australia for this event. For us this aircraft ticks three boxes. One as a significant WW-II fighter, one as an accomplished air racing machine and one as an aerobatic display aircraft that uses its wingtip smoke generators to paint amazing sky-scapes right across the azure above, all in quick time. We were hoping to be able to present the public debut of the rebuilt Focke-Wulf Fw190 of the Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection which has attended all CF airshows since its arrival in 2011, but which has been out of sight and under repair since a ground-damage incident at our last event. Not yet ready to fly again however, we are hoping to present the progress on this awesome aircraft in the 'Restoration Row' display in the main hangar. Likewise the Fw190's stable-mate, the award-winning Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk.XIVe, also of the CFFC will return to the skies this year.The Mk.XIVe made its remarkable '11th hour' debut at Classic Fighters 2015 after a mammoth round the clock effort by the team from AVSpecs at Ardmore. Both of these aircraft are resident at Omaka as is the world's sole airworthy Avro Anson Mk.I, immaculately restored by Bill and Robyn Reid and their team not to far away in Wakefield. Another locally operated machine is the beautiful Yakovlev Yak-3 of the Frew syndicate, restored right here at Omaka by the crew at JEM Aviation who have another WW-II Yak V-12 fighter well along with its restoration. This should also be available for viewing in Restoration Row. You may be inspired to purchase a share in it whilst here!
MODERN MILITARY AIRCRAFT
We've enjoyed some wonderful displays of current serving military aircraft over the years of Classic Fighters Airshows. These have included visits over several years by the Royal Australian Air Force's Vietnam era Caribou transports, sadly now retired, however this year we have the privilege of hosting the international debut of the Caribou's replacement, the C-27J Spartan courtesy of our ANZAC partners. From the RNZAF we have seen a broad range of aircraft types over the years not the least of which was the farewell Skyhawk display at our Easter 2001 show but perhaps what is best remembered was the remarkable twilight display by the Red Checkers at our very first 'Twilight Extreme' show, that performance under a stunning sunset glow is still talked about today. This year we are hoping for a broad range of aircraft from the RNZAF including helicopters, transport aircraft and hopefully, the T-6 Texan formation display team. It's always a bit of a lottery with the air force as tasking could call their manpower and machines away at any time, but we're confident they'll do their best to have a strong presence at this event!
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE.....
Not all of our show revolves around the world wars and we're planning to display some significant aircraft from other eras as we always do. These will include some precision formation displays, some heart-stopping aerobatics performances, and the STOL flying demonstration that we ran in 2013 and again in 2015 which proved so popular it has been picked up by other shows. And then you're going to see some very classy vintage machines that have not been seen at any other shows once again giving credence to that catch-phrase, 'Only at Omaka'!