In an exciting announcement, the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow has confirmed the participation of the United States Air Force (USAF) this Easter, featuring both the F-16 fighter jet and C-17 demonstration teams.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon team, stationed at Misawa in Japan, will make their way to New Zealand escorted by a KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft, facilitating air-to-air refueling. Meanwhile, the C-17 Globemaster III team will journey from their base in Hawaii to join the event.
Expressing enthusiasm for the confirmed lineup, Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager Ed Taylor stated, “The United States Air Force has been a major supporter of our airshow over the years. Their teams always put on top displays, and their personnel on the ground are always great ambassadors for their country.”
Describing the significance of the F-16, Taylor highlighted its iconic status as a Warbird, noting its enduring relevance since its first flight in 1974. “What a way to celebrate your 50th with a ‘fast and furious’ display at Wanaka,” he remarked. The F-16’s agility and speed, capable of reaching Mach 2 (2,000+ kph), promise an exhilarating performance for spectators.
The inclusion of the C-17 Globemaster III adds further grandeur to the event, promising a spectacle in the skies above Wanaka.
The participation of American forces adds to an already impressive array of modern military aircraft, with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) contributing notable highlights. Among these are the debut of the Poseidon P-8K maritime surveillance aircraft, replacing the P-3K Orion. Additionally, the airshow will witness an emotional farewell to the C-130H Hercules, performing its final major display before retirement.
RNZAF’s Air Force Heritage Flight will feature iconic aircraft such as the Spitfire, P-51 Mustang, and Grumman Avenger, flying alongside modern Texan T-6C trainers, which will also perform as the Black Falcons. Helicopter enthusiasts can anticipate a display featuring all three RNZAF helicopter types simultaneously, along with the Kiwi Blue parachute team.