Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Exhibition


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.


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).
In addition, a number of WW-I aircraft from The Vintage Aviator Limited, quite apart from those in the museum display, are based the field along with a number of additional WW-I machines owned and operated by Omaka-based individuals so we are privileged to be able to display a great range of significant machines from the Great War, and these will hopefully include several which have not been seen flying at an airshow before. These will be supported by an impressive level of theatrical support with vehicles, props, sets, pyrotechnics and military personnel from the 1914-18 period, performing for your enjoyment. As organisers of this event, the WW-I segment is something that is particularly close to our hearts and we're sure you will enjoy it too as you embrace this significant period in aviation and human history.

Sopwith CamelFokker D.VIIPhalz D.IIIFokker Triplanes

Nieuport 11Fokker Triplane Dr.1Sopwith Pup


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!

P-51Yak-3Avro Anson MK ISpitfire TR-IXME-108StukaWarbirds DC3

FW190Spitfire MK-IX
P-40EP-40NCorsairYak-3Southern DC3


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!

A109Sea SpriteC-27J Spartan

NH90IroquoisRed Checkers Team


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'!

VenomMX2BAE StrikemasterYak-52 Team
Bristol FreighterHot Rod PacerFleet 16BL4 Cub

Pitts S12Beech StaggerwingBoeing StearmanNanchangsRoaring 40's Harvard TeamBird DogTiger Moth


Over the past decade, visitors to Classic Fighters have drawn broad smiles when confronted with unexpected sights produced by our creative, capable and at times crazy props builders.

In 2001 there was the lovely two-story French Chateau complete with neighbouring vineyards for that authentic feel (we liked these so much we kept them!). This supported New Zealand's first dedicated WW-I display involving four aircraft (including a Fokker D.VIII built by the props team), two tanks and buildings. For WW-II, a full-size German Panther tank appeared to the surprise of all!

In 2003 the theme was 'North Africa' and this saw a range of appropriate structures including a very large pyramid, sphinxs guarding the Gold Pass entrance and there was even a full scale Ju87 Stuka wearing desert camouflage!

Continuing the geographical themeing, 2005 welcomed visitors to France and the remarkable spectre of a huge Eiffel Tower, over 20 meters high, so tall in fact that the CAA required a warning beacon on the top. Then there was the very realistic Arc de Triomphe, the Moulen Rouge windmill etc ensuring there was no doubt as to where the show was set for Easter!

For a change, 2007 saw the 'Aviation in the Movies' theme in which famous motion pictures inspired the scenarios. For 'A Bridge too Far', a nearly full-size Waco CG-4A glider was built, from which a WW-II jeep emerged as another glider, a British Horsa, appeared, trundling across the field in the distance. An army field hospital or M.A.S.H. unit also appeared complete with Bell 47 helicopter and that famous 'sign-post to everywhere'.

Fast forward to 2009 and the locality was Italy and the unusual spectacle of a ship under attack during the daring night raid on Taranto harbour. The next day there was a race between three gondolas across the paddock, chased on this occasion by a shark, its distinctive and sinister fin making clear its interest! Looming high above the stage within the food court were the columns of the Forum, with its cracked stone work revealing ancient writings high above the crowd. The biggest and most ambitious structure yet built for a Classic Fighters airshow, and we suspect, for any airshow, ever, was the four-story tall 50m long monastery building produced for the attack on Monte Cassino - Awesome!

What will we have this year?? Wait and see!!!

Monte Casino Castle

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