The Wings Over Wairarapa 2013 air show in Masterton, New Zealand featured many spectacular flying displays but something really cool about this show was being able to see many World War One era wooden framed, fabric covered biplane and triplane aircraft take flight. The Knights of the Sky return!
The Vintage Aviator who are based at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton provided the World War One era aircraft for the air show (when the winds allowed them to fly). They maintain and operate all of the aircraft on behalf of the 1914-18 Aviation Heritage Trust which has a major benefactor in Peter Jackson the famous New Zealand movie maker.
The Vintage Aviator do not just produce and display replica aircraft (made to look like originals), they also build reproduction aircraft following the original plans and building techniques while using as many original parts as possible (especially engines). “Our primary aim is to build WW1 aircraft, engines and propellers to the same exacting standards they were originally made over 90 years ago”.
The Vintage Aviator collection also amazingly includes actual original aircraft from World War One which still fly! These aircraft are an Avro 504K, Bristol F2.B Fighter and a Royal Aircraft Factory Be.2F (the latter was the only one to fly at this show).
Along with their original and reproduction aircraft The Vintage Aviator collection includes some famous replica aircraft used in the 1966 movie The Blue Max starring George Peppard. These are a Pfalz D.III and Fokker D.VII which were built by US companies for the movie.
New Zealand is the only place in the world where you can see so many aircraft from this era not only take flight but recreate the dogfights between the scouts, light bombers and reconnaissance aircraft of the British Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service along with their allies in the Australian Flying Corps and Italian Air Service (Servizio Aeronautico) up against the Imperial German Air Service Jagdstaffeln (hunting squadron) scouts. Imagine seeing a Sopwith Camel and Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a scouts up against the triplane Fokker DR.I’s of the Flying Circus. It’s great fun and something really different from your average air show!
Apart from air shows and special flying days you can see many of these aircraft on a regular basis at The Old Stick and Rudder Co. museum hangar also at Hood Aerodrome. They run regular tours in the hangar but it was only open for general viewing during the Wings Over Wairarapa air show.
In addition down on the South Island of New Zealand in Blenheim is the excellent Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre which is managed by the 1914-18 Aviation Heritage Trust and has fantastic static scene displays of World War One aircraft (originals and replicas) in action along with artifacts and memorabilia from “The Great War“. I visited Omaka in 2009 and it is not to be missed! They also run an excellent biannual air show there called Classic Fighters Omaka which I went to that same year and saw the original era Avro 504K and Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2F fly.