Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Exhibition


Having welcomed in 2018 it’s a time of reflection and analysis. The 2017 Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow was one of the most challenging to date, as the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake would result in SHW1 being closed for just over a year. Then the elements wreaked havoc from one end of the country to the other in the lead up to Easter 2017. It’s a real testament to the character and strength of our team who when the going got tough, or in this case bogged down with mud, they threw on their gumboots and put on a smile.
We hope that 2019 will be kinder and plans for the Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow are well underway. Yes, there will be a theme however, the what and/or how many (gasp!) is being kept well under wraps. They say that variety is the spice of life and we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve, but a strong foundation is the pillar of any successful event. So please read on to find out about what makes Yealands Classic Fighters unique.
Huge thanks to resident aviation photographer and CF Airshow sponsor Gavin Conroy of Classic Aircraft Photography for supplying the bulk of these images.



The amazing 'Pioneer Race' that was itself 'pioneered' at the Easter 2015 show and was such a hit in 2017, will be back bigger and better in 2019! 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!

Fokker Triplane Dr.1


Yealands 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. Yealands 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, created by the talented artists from WingNut Films and Weta Workshop, and supported by the most amazing display of genuine WW-I artefacts. This museum 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 to those in the museum, several WW-I machines are owned and operated by Omaka-based individuals. For Yealands Classic Fighters, the resident aircraft will be joined by WW1 machines owned by NZ Warbirds, including the Le Rhone powered Bristol Scout, BE.2 and Bristol Fighter, which will make their debut appearances at Omaka along with the 'All Black' Fokker Triplane, also NZWA operated. Further to these, we are hoping for some additional debut WW-I aircraft and will plan to reveal these in the weeks leading up to the show.

We are privileged to be able to display such a range of significant machines from the Great War. These will once again be enhanced by an impressive level of theatrical support with vehicles, props, sets, pyrotechnics and military personnel from the 1914-18 period. 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.


Fokker Triplane Dr.1Fokker D.VIISopwith Camel

Sopwith PupNieuport 11Phalz D.III


The Second World War segment of Classic Fighters 2019 will be supported as always by a great variety of combat aircraft from the era. The star of the 2017 show was the remarkable Yakovlev Yak-3UPW 'Steadfast', a multi-record-breaking racer brought from Australia for the event. In 2019 we are hoping to be able to present the public debut of the rebuilt Focke-Wulf Fw190 of the Chariots of Fire Fighter Collection (CFFC) which has been out of sight and under repair since a ground-damage incident in 2015. Happily the Fw190's stable-mate, the award-winning Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk.XIVe, also of the CFFC did  return to the skies in 2017 under the skilled airmanship of Mr and Mrs Spitfire, aka Frank and Liz Parker. Both the Focke-Wulf Fw190 and the MK.XIVe Spitfire 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.  The Avro Anson is now one of the stars of the Dangerous Skies exhibition in the new WWII section of the Omaka AHC as is the beautiful Yakovlev Yak-3 of the Frew syndicate, restored right here at Omaka and a 2017 Reno Races Unlimited Gold Class competitor. The Spitfire Mk.XIVe, Avro Anson Mk.I and Yakovlev Yak-3 are residents of the WW-2 exhibition, Dangerous Skies which opened in November 2016. This stunning display will not be open over the Easter period due to these aircraft being in the air show but great to keep in mind for another visit!

P-51Spitfire TR-IXYak-3Avro Anson MK IWarbirds DC3

FW190Spitfire MK-IX
P-40NSouthern DC3ME-108


We've enjoyed some wonderful displays of current serving military aircraft over the years of Classic Fighters Airshows. These have included visits by the Royal Australian Air Force's Vietnam era Caribou transports, sadly now retired, however this year (2017) we had 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. In 2017 we had a broad range of aircraft from the RNZAF including helicopters, transport aircraft and the T-6 Texan formation display team who were a real crowd favourite. 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!

A109A109Sea Sprite

NH90IroquoisRed Checkers Team


Not all our shows revolve around the world wars and we're planning to display some significant aircraft from other eras. These will include some precision formation displays, some heart-stopping aerobatics performances, and the STOL flying demonstration that we have run since 2013 which has proved so popular it has been picked up by other shows. You are also 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 MothTiger Moth


Over the past decade, visitors to Classic Fighters have drawn broad smiles when confronted with unexpected sights produced by our creative, skilled 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 structures including a very large pyramid, sphinxes guarding the Gold Pass entrance and there was even a full scale Ju87 Stuka wearing desert camouflage!
Continuing the geographical theming, 2005 welcomed visitors to France and the remarkable spectre of a huge Eiffel Tower, over 20 metres 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 Moulin 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!
Would you believe it? For 2011 the team built a full size V2 rocket. It took over nine months to build and stood 45 feet high. It seemed a shame to blow it up, but what a spectacle it made!
What will we have in 2019? Wait and see!!!

Monte Casino Castle

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