Scholarship winner flies the Kittyhawk.

Wanaka:  Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarship winner Michael Williams is struggling to come back down to earth after having the opportunity to fly a classic ‘heavy metal’ WWII fighter.

Michael, already an experienced pilot who flies in the RNZAF, has used his scholarship to get type rating training in the P-40 Kittyhawk based at Ardmore.  His instructor was New Zealand Warbirds Association President and one of New Zealand’s foremost Warbird display pilots, Frank Parker.

Michael best describes the experience in his own words:  “Engaging the starter for the first time surprised me with what felt like a truck crashing into the front of the aircraft.  Then a short whine of the starter before an explosion of noise, vibration, smoke, fumes and heat.  Just wow!”

“The first take off.  With the canopy open, the same sensations from the start up, but 100 times more. “After shut-down sitting there in the Auckland summer heat, with the smell of hot metal and oil, the whirring sound of the instruments winding down and hot exhausts tinkling, trying to believe that what had just happened, had actually happened” says Michael.

Frank Parker has congratulated Warbirds Over Wanaka on its scholarship initiative.

“Giving a helping hand to talented and passionate pilots like Michael can only be good for the future of the Warbirds movement and Warbirds airshows in New Zealand.  Michael can now say he’s been checked out in the P-40,” says Frank.

Both Frank and Michael will be performing at next Easter’s 30th Anniversary Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Frank will display the P-40 and will also assume his role as lead pilot in the Roaring 40s display team.  Michael will be displaying the Royal New Zealand Air Force Historic Flight Harvard as part of the Marsh Harvard Mass Formation display.

The Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarships were launched in late 2016 with the aim of providing assistance for young pilots to get experience flying Warbird aircraft.  To date four scholarships worth $5,000 each have been awarded.  Applications for the 2018 scholarships are expected to open midway through next year.

Information about the airshow is available at along with ticketing choices – call Free phone 0800 224 224 within New Zealand or 1300 798 550 within Australia.


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