Large crowds expected at Warbirds

Wanaka: Organisers of this Easter’s 30th Anniversary Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow are preparing for the possibility of one of the biggest crowds in years.

Warbirds Over Wanaka Event Manager, Mandy Deans says tickets have been selling consistently well since they first went on sale earlier last year. “We always get strong early sales from aviation fans, especially Australians who want to book as far out as possible so they can organise the rest of their stay well in advance.”

“We hoped the 30th Anniversary would resonate with lots of people and it seems that has definitely been the case with ticket sales consistently ahead of the same time before the 2016 event. Ticket sales have been given another big boost with the announcement of the United States Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team coming to the Airshow for the very first time,” says Mandy.

Organisers are ensuring they have the infrastructure to cope with more people this Easter. Mandy says this includes traffic management, parking and on-site facilities such as toilets. “We have reworked our traffic management plan and have some new innovations which we hope will minimise delays in getting everyone into the airshow, especially on the Saturday.”

Mandy says while they’re working hard to keep the traffic flowing the best way for people to ensure they get to the event in plenty of time is to leave a bit earlier. “The airshow gates open at 7.30 and all the ground displays and food outlets are operating from 8 o’clock so we’re encouraging people to leave earlier and maybe have breakfast at Warbirds and then have a look around all the displays before the non-stop aerial action starts at 10am,” says Mandy.

Warbirds Over Wanaka is also encouraging people to consider biking out to the event. Cyclists could avoid the traffic by using the Luggate cycle trail and coming up Stevenson Road to the airport. Organisers will provide cycle racks inside the airshow grounds.

Meanwhile, the US Air Force F-16s head up what is the largest modern military turnout ever at Warbirds Over Wanaka. The US are also sending a C-17 Globemaster.

The RNZAF are sending one of every type of aircraft they operate except for the Orion, including the Boeing 757 displaying for the first time in 12 years. The RAAF are sending two Hawk jets and one of their new Spartan transport aircraft while the French military are returning with the CASA.

Other expected highlights include the Marsh Harvard Salute formation display involving 13 of the iconic aircraft, a glider display set to classical music and a WWII fighter display involving a Spitfire, Buchon Me-109, Yak 3 and P-51 Mustang representing the four main aerial combatants of WWII.

Warbirds Over Wanaka is being held on March 30th, 31st and April 1. For more information and tickets visit


Photo Credit: Supplied / Steve Zimmerman

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