Fighter Jets Confirmed for Wanaka

Fighter Jets Confirmed for Wanaka

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow has confirmed the United States Air Force is supporting the event this Easter with both the F-16 fighter jet and C-17 demonstration teams heading down under.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon team is based at Misawa in Japan with the jets being escorted to New Zealand by a KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft which will provide air-to-air refuelling.  Meanwhile the C-17 Globemaster III team is coming from their base in Hawaii.

General Manager Ed Taylor says they’re thrilled to have these aircraft confirmed.  “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.”

“The F-16 is such an iconic Warbird and not just because it can reach Mach 2 (2,000+ kph).  The aircraft first flew in 1974 and is still being manufactured today - 50 years later.  What a way to celebrate your 50th with a ‘fast and furious’ display at Wanaka.   The F-16 is relatively small and light giving it amazing manoeuvrability – perfect for showing off in front of a big crowd,” says Ed.

Not so small and fast but equally impressive is the huge C-17 Globemaster III which is set to fill the sky above Wanaka during the airshow. 

The American participation backs up an impressive line-up of modern aircraft already confirmed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Highlights include the New Zealand airshow debut for the new Poseidon P-8K maritime surveillance aircraft which has replaced the P-3K Orion and what’s expected to be an emotional farewell to the C-130H Hercules which is performing its last major airshow display before being retired.

The RNZAF is also bringing its Air Force Heritage Flight including the Spitfire, P-51 Mustang and Grumman Avenger.  They will be flying with the modern Texan T-6C trainers which will also perform as the Black Falcons.  Fans of helicopters will get to see all three RNZAF types in action at once along with the Kiwi Blue parachute team.

Ed says having the support of the RNZAF, and other partner air forces, is an integral part of New Zealand’s premier airshow.  “Our airshow is proud to have aircraft from the 1920’s right through to today – it shows how technology has evolved over the years.  It’s also a great chance for visitors to find out about careers in the armed forces.”

Caption: An F-16 Fighting Falcon warms up getting ready to display at Wanaka in 2018

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