What Warbirds is all about
Almost from the beginning of the Aviation Age aircraft have been flying the skies in the service of their countries, performing a huge number of roles in a myriad of situations all over the world, both during peace and in time of war. Service aircraft that readily come to mind are the images of First World War Camels and Fokkers, the Battle of Britain Spitfires and Messerschmitts, Lancaster, Heinkel and B-17 bombers, Mustangs, Zeros - the list goes on! Later types would include Vampires, Migs, Canberras, Skyhawks and many, many more. In the history of military flight, these 'glamour' aircraft represent the front line of a much deeper and broader tradition of service, one that encompasses literally hundreds of types of training, transport and reconnaissance aircraft which have performed, and continue to perform, their vital duties.
In New Zealand, as in many countries the world over, service aircraft have been the introduction to flying and aviation for thousands of young men (and some women), particularly in times of war. Many such pilots have gone on to establish careers in civilian flying long after their military service so, in many ways, these aircraft form the very backbone of our country's aviation history.
The New Zealand Warbirds Association does not aim to glorify war at all, but rather, to see some of these grand old military aircraft preserved in flying condition for the enjoyment of all. Who can resist the throb of a Harvard or the sheer romance of a Tiger Moth, the roar of a Mustang or the rush of a jet?
What the organisation does
The New Zealand Warbirds Association is an umbrella body dedicated to the restoration, preservation and operation of service aircraft in full flying condition. Nationwide, we are a vitally alive family of involved participants who provide the wide range of skills and support necessary to maintain and operate these classic aircraft.
Warbirds was originally conceived in 1978 to preserve ex-RNZAF service aircraft only but this has been expanded by the successful introduction of service aircraft from all over the world including Russian, German and Chinese types. British and American aircraft never seen in service here also figure prominently. Everything from biplanes to jet fighters!
The development of a Visitor Centre as part of the main hangar at Ardmore provides an educational resource unrivalled in the warbird sphere. Not only does it house former RNZAF aircraft - an A4K Skyhawk (on loan from the Air Force Museum) and an Aermacchi trainer- but also has models and comprehensive squadron history banners.
The Visitor Centre is home to our Warbirds shop where a wide range of clothing and other merchandise allows you – and your family and friends- to identify with the desire to ‘keep ‘em flying’!
Restoring, preserving and flying service aircraft
As a Warbirds member you will have the opportunity to be involved with the restoration and running of these classic aircraft at a level that is unattainable by any other means. Put quite simply, if you have an interest in historic flight, Warbirds is for you. You can become involved as much or as little as you like, from an interested weekender to full syndicate member with a share in an aircraft.
Our members are people from every walk of life who have an interest in aviation and get pleasure from being associated with Warbirds aircraft. Some of our members have had prior involvement with the military and the aviation industry, as you would expect, but for many others Warbirds is the culmination of a lifelong interest and ambition which otherwise they would not have realised.
You don't have to be a pilot to join
Warbirds has many non-flyer members who simply enjoy being both involved and around these historic aircraft. Our membership is open to any person who has an interest and wishes to be involved in warbird activities. Our operations and numerous social activities cater for families and young people, as you will see at various ’Open Day’ events held at our Ardmore base and at air shows around the country.
Our hangar and club rooms at Ardmore Airport south of Auckland enable members to exchange knowledge and pool their skills in a friendly social environment and the Association serves as an important storehouse of practical help and inspiration for aircraft restoration, preservation and operation. We are fully supportive of other like-minded aviation groups around New Zealand and Warbirds is actively represented at air shows around the country where members meet and share their common interest.
Flying with Warbirds
If you have your private pilot's licence, we can assist you in obtaining the necessary rating to fly one of the sixty or so aircraft in our association, from a Tiger Moth to a DC3. The first requirement is that you belong to the particular syndicate that owns the aircraft. While we are not a 'flying school', we all keenly recognise that to remain viable in the 21st century, we need pilots with the skill, professionalism and enthusiasm to upgrade their expertise and take the challenge!
Syndicated ownership of aircraft
The majority of Warbirds' aircraft are syndicate owned with new syndicates being formed regularly as aircraft become available, often still in flying condition or as part of a restoration project.
So if you are interested in aircraft ownership, syndication could be for you! Most importantly, you don't have to be a pilot to own a share and ride in a Warbirds aircraft. Syndicate members are associated with one specific aircraft, ownership of the asset and decision making resides with the members of the syndicate. There is no restriction to the number syndicates a Warbirds member may join and some belong to several. Syndicate costs vary according to the aircraft and full, up-to-date details are available from the New Zealand Warbirds Association.
The 'Roaring Forties' display team
The 'Flag bearers' of New Zealand Warbirds, this precision aerobatics team has been seen at air shows right across New Zealand and Australia too! Flying ex-RNZAF Harvard trainers, this team continues to promise maximum visual impact and crowd enjoyment - never to be missed! We continue to honour those that ensured our freedom by serving in the armed forces by carrying out fly-pasts on ANZAC and Battle of Britain commemorative days.
New Zealand Warbirds is co-operatively associated with the organisers of the world class 'Warbirds Over Wanaka' air show as well as Classic Flyers (Tauranga), Wings over Wairarapa (Masterton), Omaka Classic Fighters (Blenheim), Art Deco (Napier) and on many other significant commemorative occasions.
NZ Warbirds is in active contact with like bodies world-wide and represents the interests of the warbird movement on aviation consultancy groups within New Zealand.
Executive and Committee 2014/15
Fred Bain, Dean Beverley, Dave Brown, Ed Doherty, Milton Donovan, Ace Edwards, Mark Helliwell, Glenn McCready, Tony Miller, Liz Needham, Brett Nicholls, Colin Rodgers, Rob Silich, Peter Fahey, Paul Johnston.
Patron and Founding President:
TT Bland AFC. MNZM.
NZ Warbirds Patron and Founding President Trevor Bland (left) talking with aviation legend General Chuck Yeager.