On this upcoming Friday, as part of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) flypast across the Lower North Island, a Spitfire from the Biggin Hill Trust will join a trio of planes. This occasion aims to commemorate 100 years of military aviation in New Zealand. Festivities will be held at Wigram in Christchurch on Saturday, where various events will take place to honor this milestone. Wigram holds historical significance as New Zealand’s first military air base.
The Spitfire, under the command of Squadron Leader Sean Perrett, will take off from Ōhakea and embark on a flight towards Wellington, venturing as far south as the city before returning north. The flight formation will also include T-6C Texan II aircraft, which are bound for Christchurch to participate in another flypast on Saturday. This particular event will showcase most of the aircraft currently operated by the RNZAF.
The Texan aircraft is a common sight near RNZAF airfields, especially Ōhakea, as it serves as the trainer aircraft for all RNZAF pilots during their initial training. Squadron Leader Perrett, who leads the Air Force Heritage Flight (AFHF) responsible for operating the Spitfire and other heritage aircraft, expressed the significance of flying these iconic aircraft to commemorate New Zealand’s military aviation heritage. The Spitfire holds a special place in the hearts of Kiwis, as many New Zealanders flew them during the Second World War as part of Royal Air Force squadrons, despite the RNZAF itself not operating Spitfires.
Squadron Leader Perrett emphasized the opportunity this flight presents to pay tribute to the 100-year legacy of military aviation in New Zealand. The Spitfire, being a classic and widely recognized aircraft, played a role in the contributions made by countless New Zealanders, including those who tragically lost their lives in Spitfire operations. Their memory and sacrifice will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds during Friday’s flight.
In addition to honoring the centenary, the Spitfire will also fly over several former RNZAF establishments in the Lower North Island, further acknowledging the rich history of the RNZAF and the dedication of those who served in various locations across the country.