WOW Airshow Original Organiser mourned
Warbirds Over Wanaka has recognised the passing of one of the original organisers of the iconic Wanaka airshow. Seventy-two year old Gavin Johnston died suddenly on Sunday, September 17, while returning from an overseas holiday.
Gavin was a member of the Wanaka Lions Club who helped Sir Tim and George Wallis put on the very first Wanaka airshow in 1988.
George remembers Gavin did such a great job leading the Lions team that they asked him to come back as manager for the next airshow.
Gavin continued running the airshow, along with Sir Tim and George, for the next 20 years. The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust was set up in 2006 and Gavin worked for the trust organising the 2008 airshow before calling it a day. After a stint living and working in Australia he returned to live in Nelson a few years ago.
“Gavin was a major part of the early success of the airshow over many years. There will be many in the Warbirds community mourning his untimely death,” says George.
Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager Ed Taylor says everyone is shocked by Gavin’s death. “As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations next Easter we had planned a special reunion of the ‘three Amigos’ responsible for organising the very first airshow. I had been in touch with Gavin not so long ago and he was very much looking forward to being here to celebrate three decades of the airshow,” says Ed.
Gavin is survived by his wife Julie and two children. A celebration of Gavin’s life will be held in the Ferry Park Chapel, at 297 Ferry Road in Christchurch on Friday, September 22 at 2pm.