Sir Tim Wallis dies

Sir Tim Wallis dies

The Warbirds Over Wanaka community has come together to mark the death of airshow founder, patron and number one fan – Sir Tim Wallis.  Sir Tim died peacefully in Wanaka this afternoon (Tuesday, Oct 17) at the age of 85.

Sir Tim was the driving force behind the event for 20 years after the first airshow “Warbirds On Parade” was held in 1988.  His pure joy and enthusiasm for the event ensured there were plenty of others to help him put together what rapidly became the Southern Lakes biggest and best-known event.

Such was the calibre of those early airshows that Warbird fans from around the world started descending on Wanaka every second Easter for the three-day aviation extravaganza.

Tim headed up the organising team until 2006 when the event passed into the control of the newly established Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust.  While he no longer had day-to-day oversight of the airshow Sir Tim continued to take a keen interest and was always up for a chat about what could be a good act for the next airshow.

Tim had a great philosophy on life as he talked about in this clip from an interview in 2018 -

Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust Chairman John Gilks says Sir Tim has left an amazing legacy.  “Today the airshow attracts more than 50,000 people over three days and pumps $42million into the regional economy”.

John says back in the early days Sir Tim’s main reasons for staging the airshow were to share his collection of WWII fighters with the general public but also to help attract visitors to Wanaka which was a sleepy little town back then.  “He achieved all of that and a lot more.  He was a real business entrepreneur and his legacy in this region goes way beyond the airshow.”

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager Ed Taylor has some very fond memories of catching up with Sir Tim over the past 12 years.  “Sir Tim was a regular out at his airport office and I loved nothing more than having chats with him which almost always were about the airshow.  He loved nothing more than talking about aircraft and the airshow.”

Ed says Sir Tim is held in the highest regard in the world of Warbird airshows.  “I might be talking to a relatively young Warbird display pilot in the US or Europe and they would ask after Sir Tim – they all knew him by name.”

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