Omaka Classic Fighters Airshow 2015
AERODROME ROAD, BLENHEIM (5kms from town, route sign-posted off SH6)   MARLBOROUGH • NEW ZEALAND

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The Harvard making its way into the exhibition this morning ready for display The Harvard making its way into the exhibition this morning ready for display

One of the most versatile and prolific aeroplanes built, the astounding total of 21,342 examples of the North American T-6 Texan/Harvard were built; it ranks as having one of the largest production runs of any aircraft type. Initially designated the NA-16, the T-6 was given the name Texan by the US Army Air Corps, SNJ by the US Navy and Harvard by the British.

Designed by an engineering team led by J. Leland Atwood (responsible for the P-51 Mustang fighter), the T-6 was built to a US Army requirement for an advanced crew trainer, and first flew in 1935. Atwood and his team could not have foreseen that their design would be finally retired from active service as late as 1996 with the South African Air Force! The secret to the aircraft's success was the successful combination of a reliable power plant, a single Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial piston engine, and a sturdily constructed airframe.

Here in New Zealand some 202 Harvards served with the RNZAF for over 35 years and the type continues to delight, with an ever increasing number being operated on the civilian register each year. With the RNZAF retiring their Harvards in 1978 the big, noisy machine became the foundation of the successful New Zealand Warbirds syndicated organisation at Ardmore, near Auckland.

The aircraft on temporary display here (with the Anson on air show duties over the weekend) is one of the aforementioned South African Air Force examples and has been in NZ for many years. It is now based here at Omaka under the ownership of Brent and Trevor Collins.


FOX ON THE RUN - 10 Feb 2017

Here we see the just-arrived Fox Moth with Greg MacDonald's Auster, the escort ship, in the background as Greg is greeted by old friend and AHC CEO Jane Orphan. Here we see the just-arrived Fox Moth with Greg MacDonald's Auster, the escort ship, in the background as Greg is greeted by old friend and AHC CEO Jane Orphan.

Well here's a rare creature we can look forward to seeing around the field for a few weeks. This glorious de Havilland DH.83c Fox Moth, ZK-AQB was restored over a period of around 25 years at Mandeville, near Gore, by the Croydon Aircraft Company. It had earlier been test flown by Croydon's former Chief Pilot, Ryan Southam who had also done a lot of engineering on the aircraft, and in whose care it will remain during its Omaka visit.

The Fox Moth arrived overhead here at 3:00 pm on 9th February, escorted by Auster Mk.Vd, ZK-BGU. The Fox started its journey from Mandeville on the 8th with long time friend of Omaka Greg MacDonald at the controls. Greg took it as far as his hangar at Forest Field, near Christchurch. The next day the Fox was handed to Lachlan Falconer who flew the aircraft to Omaka, with Greg flying alongside in his Auster, so that the two pilots would have a ride home at the end of the journey. A nice day out for a couple of neat old aircraft and their keen pilots. Owned by John Eaton of Auckland, the Fox Moth will ultimately take up residence at Dairy Flat. In the meantime, take a close look at it if you get the chance as this is one stunning restoration!


Avro Anson and the Healthy Bastards Bush Pilots Champs - 04 February

Happy Friday everyone! Don't forget the Healthy Bastards Bush Pilot Champs are on tomorrow at M.A.C. (Marlborough Aero Club). The Avro Anson which is one of the stars of the Dangerous Skies (WWII) Exhibition, is currently the only Mk.1 machine in the world that is flyable, will be out on the airfield all day tomorrow in-conjunction with this great event. Please note that a discount of $5 per adult entry will apply for Dangerous Skies, 4 February.



Holiday Message


2016 has been an extremely busy year with some amazing highs and a big shake! The highlight has undoubtedly been the opening of our new exhibition Dangerous Skies. This has been a labour of love and has consumed every waking hour for the last 18 months. We are very proud of the resulting displays and the team that made it happen from its inception, planning, fundraising and design to the actual creation. Never has the proverb “it takes a whole village to raise a child” been more fitting!

Dangerous Skies features stories from World War II and two of the star attractions of the new exhibition are a twin engine bomber, the world’s only flyable Mk1 Avro Anson and a Griffon powered Mk.XIVe Spitfire. Another definite highlight is the exquisite Maude family Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk which is here for a very limited time (mid 2017) before returning to Canada. This aircraft truly is a thing of beauty so don’t delay, come and see her before she goes home!

In the New Year, we have two Omaka Flying Days scheduled, the first being 22 January the second 19 March, then at Easter it’s the Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow. Yes, it’s another busy year ahead!

As we round off 2016 we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Remember we are open every day, except for Christmas Day from 9am until 5pm. For info on other attractions’ holiday hours click here and if you are driving from the south this handy map is great. So, don’t delay -we’d love to see you!



Birthday Flying Day Saturday 10th December 2016


We're crazy about planes and we love to fly! Come join in the fun and as we take our preciouses out for a spin. All Fokkers are welcome as we'd love to have a Yak about Ryan, Anson and those crazy Pitts. Coffee and treats in the Cafe, Nana's Cream Freeze will be pleasing all the kids, the BBQ will be sizzling and this time we've got bacon! It's the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre's 10th Birthday so come celebrate with us, who knows you might even get cake.

It's $10 per adult at the gate & kids 14 years and under are free & as a special bonus if you pay an additional $10 per adult ($20 total pp) you'll also get access to the Museum as well! So only $20 per adult for the Flying Day & both Knights of the Sky & the new Dangerous Skies exhibition! The Anson & Yak3 are amongst the stars of the Dangerous Skies exhibition but will be out flying on the 10th so a great day to see them in action.

Even if it’s raining it’s still a great day to come along to and we’ll have cake!


All museum facilities fully operational


Three days after the earthquake in North Canterbury on 14 November, all museum facilities are operating normally. The building was inspected by structural engineers and declared safe within 24 hours of the event. Museum staff were subsequently able to assess the extent of any damage to the exhibits and this was found to be relatively minor.

Dangerous Skies, the newest addition to the Omaka AHC opened to the public on the 1st November just one month shy of the museum’s 10-year anniversary. “The cost of the build and fit-out was significantly inflated due to additional earthquake proofing requirements and it is only at times like these do you fully appreciate these precautions. Both locals and international guests continue to visit and we are grateful for the support that the Museum has received post-quake “, said CEO Jane Orphan.

The Omaka AHC team are safe and well and our thoughts are with those communities less fortunate. The Omaka Airfield itself is a hive of activity with the wider airfield community doing their bit for those in need. The skies over Marlborough may not be particularly brilliant today but its people and spirit are and continue to be, Brilliant Every Day.


About Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Omaka AHC was established to provide a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft. The “Knights of the Sky” exhibition showcases the world’s largest private collection of World War 1 aircraft and rare memorabilia and is on long-term loan from film director Sir Peter Jackson.  Thanks to Sir Peter’s generosity, the aircraft have been brought to life in a series of dioramas created by Wingnut Films and enhanced with lifelike mannequins by Weta Workshop. A second exhibition Dangerous Skies, opened in November 2016 and tells stories from World War 2 including the Eastern Front which are lesser known here in the West.




Omaka Flying Day – 30 October 2016

The vines may have been dormant but it’s been crazy busy at the Omaka AHC with all hands on deck getting our new exhibition hall ready to open on the 1st of November. There’s still a bit to do but you know what they say “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. So we’re brushing off the cobwebs and planning to have a blast at our first Flying Day of the season! We hope you’ll join us for some flying fun and while you’re here grab a sausage off the BBQ, Nana’s Cream Freeze as well as great coffee from the Comet Café.

Adults are $10 pp, Kids 14 years and under are Free!


New WWII Exhibition Opens 01 November 2016


One-month and five days’ shy of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre’s 10-year anniversary, the museum’s second exhibition, Dangerous Skies will open to the public. Featuring stories of aviators and aircraft from World War II the exhibition will take visitors on a historical as well as a geographical journey.

A production team made up of paid professionals and passionate volunteers, have worked tirelessly over the last eighteen months to bring these stories to life.  Jane Orphan, Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre director said “We have some remarkable aviation stories to tell from WW2. Some will be familiar, such as the Battle of Britain, but we are also introducing lesser known stories (in the West) from the Eastern Front and Burma. The aircraft we have for display take the lead but the stories provide the context. “

The exhibition will include a mixture of original and replica machines, one of these being the world’s only flyable Avro Anson Mk1 and a Griffon powered Mk.XIVe Spitfire. Once again mannequins from cinematic master craftsmen Weta Workshop will enhance scenes painstakingly created by talented local artists.

The opening of Dangerous Skies signifies the completion of Stage Two of a multi-stage development and is the result of years of fundraising and planning. This is a joint venture between the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The support of the Rata Foundation, Marlborough District Council, Marlborough business community and dedicated volunteers have been integral to the success of the project.

About Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Omaka AHC was established to provide a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft. The “Knights of the Sky” exhibition showcases the world’s largest private collection of World War 1 aircraft and rare memorabilia and is on long-term loan from film director Sir Peter Jackson.  Thanks to Sir Peter’s generosity, the aircraft have been brought to life in a series of dioramas created by Wingnut Films and enhanced with lifelike mannequins by Weta Workshop. A second exhibition Dangerous Skies will tell the story of aviation development during World War 2 and will open in November 2016.

To learn more visit or call us at +64 3 579 1305



Heavy rain is forecast for this Saturday so we have made the decision to cancel the event. Apologies to all those enthusiasts out there who were looking forward to the day.




Summer has officially come to an end and we're hoping to go out on a high! It's the last Omaka Flying Day of the season and there will be some fantastic aircraft on display, both on the ground and in the air. Nana's Ice Creams will be onsite, the sausages will be sizzling and the Comet Cafe will be serving coffee and other treats all day.

Formal flying starts at 10am and finishes at 2.30pm. Hope to see you there!

Gate Fee: $10 per adult and kids under 14 years are free.

This is a fundraiser for the new WW2 Exhibition to open mid-2016.

Flying Day lineup



Celebrate the end of the school holidays at an Omaka Flying Day! There will be some fantastic aircraft on display, both on the ground and in the air. One cannot live on aircraft appreciation alone (many have tried) so Nana's Ice Creams will be onsite, there will be our classic Kiwi sausage sizzle and the Comet Cafe will be serving coffee and other treats all day.

Formal flying starts at 10am and finishes at 2.30pm. Hope to see you there!

Gate Fee: $10 per adult and kids under 14 years are free.

This is a fundraiser for the new WW2 Exhibition to open mid-2016.




We are very sorry to advise that we lost one of our number last night following a motoring accident on SH6 between Havelock and Okaramio. As many of you will know, 89 year old 'Sandy' had been taking helicopter lessons in Motueka, something he'd become very excited about and which he was gaining confidence in and enjoying tremendously. This did involve a lot of driving of course, however Sandy had always been a keen motorist, and had owned a variety of cars in recent years, mostly of European origin and many quite sporty by design (he just mentioned two days ago that he'd ordered another new Volvo to replace the current one).

Late afternoon yesterday, our Marlborough Aero Club CFI, Sharn Davies was on State Highway 6 when he came across the crash scene. Emergency vehicles were in attendance etc., and Sharn could not help but recognise that one crashed vehicle wore Sandy's familiar 'FL1BOY' number plates and his heart sank at the realisation that Sandy had been critically injured. A flight by emergency helicopter to Wellington Hospital ED followed, but Sandy passed away soon afterwards.

We have all known Sandy from the time we opened the AHC and he signed on as a volunteer guide on the recommendation of son in law and daughter, Andy and Barbara Wrighton. Almost immediately, Sandy also signed up to take flying lessons with MAC, initially in the Tecnam, and later in the Dynamic. He commenced his flying lessons at age 81 and continued to enjoy his flying thereafter. Always wanting to step up to the 'next thing', it caused smiles all around when Sandy announced he'd intended to start flying helicopters. He'd only just been featured in the Marlborough Express recently in a story about his helicopter flying.

Sandy's loss is a great blow to our community. He may have been one of our oldest members, but he was also one of our most 'young at heart' and will certainly be missed around Omaka.

We know little of the circumstances of Sandy's accident, other than the fact that two other occupants from a second vehicle suffered only minor injuries.

This year's Christmas holiday season road toll already looks set to be the worst for a while. Please, please everyone, take extra care on the roads this Christmas period and please keep to the speed limit.



Flying Day Sunday Dec 6


Those magnificent men in their flying machines are at it again! Or is it the other way round? Seriously a great day out and a chance to get up close and personal with some fantastic aircraft. Plus you can get your Christmas shopping out of the way (or started!) with 20% off all Airfix, Oxford & Corgi Models.

Gate sales only: $10 per adult, kids under 14yrs are free

Remember to bring some cash for a sausage (or two) and if you live locally a 50% discount applies to museum entry with proof of residency.

For updates, including the weather conditions on the day, please check our facebook page.



On the 14th of November its the 70th anniversary of the American Pitts Special. If you like your planes upside down this is the event for you!

From 10am until 12pm the Pitts will battle it out in an Aerobatic competition that will see aircraft fly down to around 1,100ft above the ground. Aircraft will be displayed outside the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and the competition will be held overhead the field. The Freestyle routines in which pilots get to fly whatever types of figures they like, complete with smoke systems commence at 4pm.

This event will be run by the NZ Aerobatic Club and hosted by the Marlborough Aero Club and the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. Spread the word and we hope to see you there!

Pitts Special ZK PTS

The Pitts Special that is best known to Omaka visitors will most likely be this one, the biggest of the Pitts family, the 360hp radial powered S-12, ZK-PTS. This machine was built by owner John Eaton of Auckland and has regularly displayed at Marlborough's biennial Classic Fighters Omaka Airshow.Photo by Gavin Conroy


6 December, 31 January and (20 March - sorry cancelled, new date TBA)

Enjoy a great day out with aerial and ground displays of heritage aircraft at our Summer Series of Omaka Flying Days. We'll have our popular Sausage Sizzle, Nana's Cream Freeze (excluding 6 Dec) not to mention our famous Comet Cafe on site, it'll be a stunning day to bring along the kids!
Entry is $10 an adult, kids under 14 are free.

It's also a great opportunity to visit the museum (normal entry charges apply) and there is a Flying Day Special of 20% off all Airfix, Corgi, Revell and Oxford models. Come along, talk to the experts, get up close and personal with these awesome flying machines and have a great day out in the Marlborough sun.




In Trip Advisors’ 2015 Travellers' Choice Award for Museums

Blenheim, Marlborough – Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was named today by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, as the second ranked museum in the Southern Hemisphere (including Australia) in their annual Travellers’ Choice Awards 2015.

Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions in destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period.

Jane Orphan, Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre director, said "I'm just thrilled that so many visitors have enjoyed their experience at the Omaka AHC so much, that they have been moved to want to tell others and to share the experience via Trip Advisor. They say that there's no better publicity than 'word of mouth' and here we see it to be true. This could not help but spur us on to bigger and better things as we work towards the opening of the new WW-II display in the middle of next year. There are certainly exciting times ahead".

About Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

Omaka AHC was established to provide a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft. The “Knights of the Sky” exhibition is the world’s largest collection of World War 1 aircraft and rare memorabilia and is on long-term loan from film director Sir Peter Jackson. Thanks to Sir Peter’s generosity, the aircraft have been brought to life in a series of dioramas created by Wingnut Films and enhanced with lifelike mannequins by Weta Workshop. A second exhibition Dangerous Skies will tell the story of aviation development during World War 2 and is scheduled to open in June 2016.


Flying Day 20th September

Flying Day 24th January

Enjoy a great day out at Omaka on Saturday 24th January, when we will be holding one of our fundraising Flying Days from 10am - 2.30pm. Just $10 for adults and free for children, with 50% off your admission to the museum.


WW100 Project

We have been successful in obtaining funding from the Lottery Grants Board. This grant is enabling us to commemorate the centenary by introducing new permanent additionsWW100 symbol to the Knights of the Sky exhibition. Work on the exhibits will commence early in the New Year, with the aim to have them completed before our Classic Fighters airshow this Easter, April 3-5.

The new exhibits will place a special emphasis on the stories of New Zealanders in the Air War. We will answer the questions as to who were the noteable New Zealanders involved; how and where did they learn to fly; what were their achievements and what impact did their involvement have on the conflict and subsequently? Both local and overseas visitors will be then better equipped to appreciate the contribution New Zealand made to this unique aspect of the Great War.



Marlborough Schools Tertiary Study Awards Presented at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

The Marlborough Lines Tertiary Study Awards are awarded at the end of the school year to students in the final year of their secondary schooling. These awards recognise excellence in the students’ endeavours and are cash prizes to be used for higher education.

This year the students received their awards surrounded by the dramatic displays at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Marl LInes Tertiary Study winners

Pictured here from left are Dani Gibbs, William Irwin-Harris, Lucy Young, Piers Landon-Lane, and Alexandra Parker.

Congratulations to you all and best wishes for the future, from everyone at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre!


November 22nd Flying Day - CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER, SORRY

Come along this Saturday and enjoy the aerial and ground displays at Omaka, including wartime 'living history'. Just $10 for adults plus half price off your admission to the museum with any ticket. All proceeds towards the expansion of the museum.


November 22 Flying Day advert


Flying Day

On the 11th of October, this Saturday, one of our ever popular fundraiser Flying Days will be taking place just outside the Centre from 10-2.30. Entry is $10 at the gate, kids through free. Come along, have a look at our flying displays and chat to our resident experts.


Royal Visit

Royal couple with Sir Peter Jackson

The Royal visit was a huge success, with Their Royal Highnesses enjoying a tour of the museum in the company of collection owner Sir Peter Jackson.



Flying helmet for Prince George






Trust Chairman, Brian Greenall presented a special gift for Prince George on behalf of the Trust, which was a child-sized flying helmet, made of leather and lined with possum fur.



Trustee Graham Orphan then accompanied the Royal couple as they viewed the aircraft arranged outside, which are owned by other members of the New Zealand Aviation Museum Trust. Being a keen aviator, the Duke took the opportunity of climbing into the cockpit of a Sopwith Pup, owned by Murray Miers. Both William and Kate then climbed onboard the WW2 Avro Anson Mk1 bomber with owners Bill and Robyn Reid.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

Royals climb aboard Avro Anson

For more images, please visit our facebook page


What will be happening on Thursday 10th April?


Omaka will be hosting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the 10th April. Also attending will be the Prime Minister, Hon John Key and Bronagh Key, as well as the Leader of the Opposition, Hon David Cunliffe and Karen Price-Cunliffe.

Dignataries will begin arriving at 1.00pm.

In addition to touring the museum with Sir Peter Jackson, the Royal couple will view other heritage aircraft outdoors, which are owned by members of the local aviation community.

A Flying Day has been arranged to provide entertainment for Royals and public alike. A number of heritage aircraft will be on show and several will take to the air during the course of the day. In keeping with the Great War theme for the Royal visit, a number of period cars will be on display c/- the Vintage Car Club and Delta Group will set up a ‘living history’ display near the trenches.

BBQ food, coffee, cakes, ice cream and drinks will all be on offer but please remember to bring cash, as eftpos will not be available.

The gates open at 9am, with flying commencing from 10am. There is NO CHARGE to attend.

Parking will be in the car club grounds across the road or in paddocks further back along Aerodrome Rd. Please note that there is to be no parking on the road verge.

The museum itself will remain closed for the day, but will reopen as usual at 10am the following morning.


Announcement of Royal Visit to Omaka

Prince William, Kate and baby George

Well it's a big day for the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.  As you may have heard on this morning's news reports, we are to be honoured with a Royal Visit, when their Royal Highnesses William & Kate visit the AHC on 10th April. We're also thrilled that Sir Peter Jackson will be able to visit at the time to show our special guests through his remarkable collection of aircraft and memorabilia.

Our April Flying Day has been scheduled to coincide with the Royal Visit, so there will be plenty of aviation activity for the public to enjoy, even though access to the museum itself may be restricted on this occasion.

Obviously, there is considerable prestige associated with a visit like this, and the exposure of this facility to a broad audience is absolutely priceless.

So many of our Members have worked hard over the years to make the AHC what it is today.  The contribution of this small community, coupled with Sir Peter's generous contribution of aircraft and memorabilia have combined to create a truly unique display and this is at last gaining the highest level of recognition.  As a community we can all be very proud of what has been achieved.

9 March Flying Day Fundraiser
Sopwith Pup at Omaka

After the wonderful success of our January Flying Day, we are planning two more over the Summer/Autumn period. The First is Sunday 9th March and the second will be 10th April.

These special days present a wonderful opportunity to see some of the other privately owned aircraft based at Omaka. The wonderful Avro Anson bomber will be out and flying. Being the only Mark 1 in the world, this is a real privilege. You can also expect to see the newly restored black Fokker Triplane, Sopwith Pup, Harvard, Fw190, Nanchangs, Tiger Moth, Yak-3 and Devon. No guarantees as to which will be flying on the day, but there is sure to be a great lineup.

$10 adult entry charge for March 9th, with an additional charge to view the museum. The outdoor displays will be scheduled for 10am-2pm. Details of the 10 April event are yet to be announced.



Jack Hardie at OmakaPresentation of memorabilia by Jack Hardie


On 27th January 1943 Jack Hardie was shot down over Holland and became a prisoner of war at the infamous Stalag VIIIB. Jack survived the experience and 71 years later has presented some of his precious mementos of that period to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. These include his kit bag (pictured left), his Catapiller badge, service medals and log book.

Over 30 members of his extended family and friends gathered for the presentation and enjoyed morning tea together before touring the Knights of the Sky exhibition.

We all look forward to the day when Jack’s collection can be put on public display in a future WW2 exhibition.

Jack's account of his dramatic wartime experiences are told in his book From Timaru to Stalag VIIIB. Signed copies are onsale at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre for $30.





Jan2014 Flying Day

Well that really was the best flying day we have ever held!  We had fantastic weather, fantastic crowds and a truly outstanding aircraft line-up.  Prize for the most active aircraft must surely go to the Anson which Bill had on the go all day long, very generously giving rides to many first-time bomber crews and with the command role shared with Dave Phillips who put on some outstanding handling display demonstrations which always surprise everyone watching as the Anson shows how lithe it can be.

The Stearman and the Tiger and Nanchang from the RFC Syndicate were all equally active on the day, putting in many flights and it was great to see Jan Flying Day members of the syndicate using the opportunity to get themselves current again, which also ensured that Allistair Matthews spent a large amount of time in the air as he generously made himself available for check rides. 

A highlight for many was the 'opening the show' flight by Wayne Tantrum in the CFFC Sopwith Pup.  Wayne had borrowed a new propeller that Tony Wytenburg had had made for the Gnome rotary and this propeller really made the Pup perform noticeably better than the one previously flown on the aircraft.  Tony was on the field too displaying the nearly completed Gnome which looks like a gleaming piece of aviation art.  The workmanship that Tony and the lads have put into this magnificent brand-new 100 year old engine literally has to be seen to be appreciated and you can't help but feel proud of what has been done here by the CAMS team.  Gnome rotary CAM
In addition to the Gnome display and the Sopwith Pup, the WW-I line-up included the newly completed Classic Wings' black Fokker Triplane, the Nieuport 11, and the Nieuport 27 flown up from Lincoln, in Canterbury for the day by Tony Scarlett. That was an unexpected and very welcome arrival!

It was particularly nice to see the range of classic American taildraggers comprising the Pacers of Don Grant and Craig Anderson and the recently imported Super Cub of Jim Benbo, the 'Pregnant Cub' of Bruce Gibson and the Orphans' Aeronca Champ. Something that almost qualifies also saw the light of day, this being the tiny Parnell Penguin ground trainer which has been quietly undergoing an upgrade with Mike Gray and which was all set to make its first public engine run in decades.  Sadly, the little Henderson, known to be a cantankerous beast, would start to run but would not sustain that operation despite the best efforts of Mike with his ingenious remote starter and Scott Tudor,Penguin on board the Penguin (the only Penguin pilot to have enjoyed sustained running from the tiny cockpit of this machine for decades).  

Much more successful was the engine running carried out by Al and Marty in Bristol Freighter ZK-CPT. At the present time, only the port engine is being run with consideration being given as to how best to effect the needed repairs to the starboard engine which is currently not operational.  This really is a magnificent beast and one deserving of some special attention that we hope to be lavishing on it in the coming weeks (see elsewhere this issue). 

Other noteworthy displays on the day included the two ship formation of the Nanchangs of Steve Petersen and the RFC Syndicate flown by Jay McIntyre and Mark O'Sullivan; the solo aerobatic display by Mark in 'JQS complete with smoke; and the aerobatics demonstration by Andy Love in the Pitts.  Harvard
Rex and Jo arrived from Fielding in their familiar Harvard to the delight of all!  It is very hard to ignore the presence - both visually and audibly - of New Zealand's most recognised warbird type.  Everyone loves the Harvard!

On the static display line-up, my hat is off to the broader Marlborough Aero Club membership who really put in a lot of effort to present for display, an extraordinary variety of aeroplanes including many homebuilt machines providing as eclectic a mix as you could want.  It is always the hope with these flying days, that amongst the hundreds of visitors who are drawn to this activity by the colour and excitement of a century of aviation displays, there will be a few who'd like to think that one day, they might be able to be a part of this.  Our job, right across the Omaka community, is to pave the way for them to do so and it is therefore vitally important to have the sense of means and access to learn to fly.  The opportunity to go through the gate onto the airfield land where amongstMAC lineup the colourful aircraft parked on show, there is at least one Club trainer that is open and manned by a keen member ready to talk people through the steps needed to become an aviator.

Even though this was a simple, casual, flying day, visitors clearly did very well for themselves as they were treated to a very broad range of aviation attractions on the ground and in the air.

The other major attraction, in the view of this writer, was the professionalism and enthusiasm displayed by this quite remarkable community.  I was blown away by the generous spirit shown by so many dedicated members applying themselves to all of those thankless tasks like preparing the grounds for the day, taking money at the gate, parking cars, manning the sausage sizzle, providing ground support for the flying operations, guiding in the museum and so on, not to mention those who prepared the various private aircraft for display o the day.  So many of you did so much to make this day a success, and in the process, proved to be cheerful, enthusiastic and gracious ambassadors not just for the AHC but for aviation and for Marlborough.  This collective effort was truly impressive and speaks volumes for the calibre of this community.  
To everyone who participated in this excellent event, a 'very well done' and thank you to you all!


Omaka Flying Day Fundraiser

Jan11 Omaka Flying Day adv


On Saturday 11 January 2014 we will be holding a special day when aircraft come out of the private hangars and go on display for the public.There will also be visiting aircraft flying in for the occasion and of course some display flying thrown in.

Many of our Members own and operate aircraft, so this is a chance for them to share their passion for heritage aviation.

At only $10 for adults and free to children, this is a value-for-money day out for the whole family.

Our volunteers will be manning the sausage sizzle and collecting entry fees at the gate.

Parking is available at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

The wonderful Knights of the Sky Great War exhibition will be open from 10am-5pm but an additional charge will apply.

This day is a fundraiser, with all money raised going towards the expansion of the museum.




Omaka Book Launch


Omaka book cover


Guests of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre celebrated the launch of the museum’s new book Omaka’s Knights of the Sky at an evening function on 10th October. Despite lots of give away ‘thank you’ books, many more were sold on the night as guests made the most of the opportunity to buy additional copies.
At just $19.99 the book is well priced for visitors to buy as a souvenir guide and with 110 pages of beautiful photography and informative text, it is exceptional value. The book also includes a preface by Sir Peter Jackson.
Copies can be purchased at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre or online via the merchandise page






School Holiday Special

Kidz Go Free, plus there is a competition to quess the number of aeroplane lollies in the jar!


advert fro school holiday activity


School Holiday Fun with the Omaka Mystery Match

These July School Holidays, join in the fun at Omaka with a special activity for school-age children.

''Take a journey back through time
Match the objects
And solve the rhymes
The clues are here for you to see
So come along, 'cos KIDS GO FREE!'

The activity includes free entry for children accompanied by a paying adult. Offer valid from 13 July - 28 July 2013.




Major Donation Launches Campaign to Fundraise for Museum Expansion


Omaka CEO Jane Orphan with CCT Trustees Brian Moore and Rosemary WellsThe Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre has received a major boost with the donation of $500,000 by the Canterbury Community Trust.

The grant was announced at an afternoon function at Omaka on 10th May, attended by over 100 people, including Trustees of both organisations, local MP Colin King, Mayor Alistair Sowman, Councillors, museum members and staff, together with representatives of the aviation and tourism industries.

Louise Edwards, CEO of the Canterbury Community Trust has kindly provided some background on the Trust and the decision making behind the grant:

The Canterbury Community Trust distributes funds for charitable, cultural, philanthropic and recreational benefits in four regions, not only Canterbury, but also Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands.

When we launched the $25million Special Fund in February this year we were very clear about where the funds would go. We stated that money from the $5.1 million dollar Regional Fund would be a contribution towards projects which support the community, strengthen significant historic buildings or assist people who have moved to Nelson, Marlborough or Chatham Islands after the Canterbury earthquakes. Our Trustees carefully evaluated the proposal from the Trustees of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and concluded that it fitted our criteria.Omaka CEO Jane Orphan, Mayor Alistair Sowman,Clr David Dew, Clr Peter Jerram, Clr Graeme Taylor celebrate the grant announcement

The Christchurch earthquakes have had a major detrimental impact on tourism and the tourism infrastructure in the South Island and it is important that the wider region stays on the tourism radar. The proposal for funding from the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre will clearly bring economic benefits to the wider region through an increase in tourism and the additional flow on effects from this increase.

The Canterbury Community Trust was established on the sales of its shares in the Canterbury Savings Bank. The Trust is an independent grant-making organisation supporting the work of not-for-profit groups in Nelson, Marlborough, Chatham Islands and Canterbury (the regions covered by the Canterbury Savings Bank).Guests enjoy the hospitality at Omaka following the annoucement of the CCT grant

Under the terms of the Trust’s establishment, distribution of funds must be fair and equitable across all of the specified regions.

The Trust has been able to make this Special Fund possible because it has been building up its resources through a prudent investment strategy.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Trustees are very grateful to be a recipient of this grant, which effectively launches their capital campaign to finance a major expansion of the museum facilities.

Whilst detailed plans are still to be worked through, a Master Plan designed by Marc Barron of Jerram, Tocker, Barron provides an insight into how the future complex may develop.


To make a donation towards our museum expansion, please see the Donation and Bequests page


Pictured above: Omaka CEO Jane Orphan with CCT's Marlborough Trustees Brian Moore and Rosemary Wells.

Above right: Omaka CEO Jane Orphan, Mayor Alistair Sowman, Clr David Dew, Clr Peter Jerram, Clr Graeme Taylor celebrate the announcement.

Right: Invited guests enjoy the hospitality at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

Below: Concept drawing for the expansion of the museum facilities.

Omaka concept plan exterior



Avro Anson heading shor for fundraisingng day at Omaka


We are planning another of our special flying days, the last prior to the BIG EVENT, Classic Fighters in March.

The magnificent Anson Mk1 twin-engined bomber has arrived at Omaka and will be on display and flying for our special day. This WW2 veteran is the only Mk 1 flying anywhere in the world. It will be joined by our resident collection of heritage aircraft and special guests for the day. There will be an emphasis on the vintage biplanes, as we expect to have the Tiger Moth, Boeing Stearman, Fleet 16, plus the WW1 Sopwith Pup and Nieuport 16.

Once again the cost of entry will be $10 per adult, free to children. Proceeds will go towards building a storage hangar to house some of these wonderful aircraft, while we work towards our museum expansion.

Not only will you be treated to some fabulous aerial entertainment, but included in your ticket will be the chance to win a joyride in the vintage Stearman biplane valued at $295!!

So get your helmet and goggles ready for a great day at Omaka!

Flying displays from 10am – 2.30pm
Parking available at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.


PLUS if you have paid your $10 for the day and also want to visit the Knights of the Sky exhibition, we will have a special entry price of $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Flying Day a Great Success



Aerial view of Omaka flying day

Hundreds of people enjoyed a great day out at Omaka on Saturday. The sun was shining,aircraft were flying and sausages were sizzling. Our thanks to all the pilots and volunteers who helped make the day go so well.


Omaka Flying Day Fundraiser

Omaka Flying Day Fundraiser - Saturday 20th October

Saturday 20th October, the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre will be holding another of our special flying days, but this time we are raising the activity a peg or two!

If all goes to plan, the German Focke Wulf 190 and a visiting P-40 Kittyhawk, both iconic fighter aircraft from the Second World War will provide some serious action overhead. Joining these will be an array of heritage aircraft, including the Sopwith Pup and Nieuport 11 from WW-I, the Russian WW-II Yak-3 fighter, vintage Boeing Stearman and Fleet 16 biplanes, Harvard, Nanchang and more…..!

We are also expecting the newly restored Anson Mk1 to be in attendance, turning this into something of a welcome party. The twin-engine Anson bomber is the only one of its kind flying anywhere in the world, so this is a very special opportunity to be amongst the first to see it.

The cost of entry will be $10 per adult, free to children. Proceeds will go towards building a storage hangar to house some of these magnificent aircraft, while we work towards our museum expansion.

Not only will you be treated to some fabulous aerial entertainment, but included in your ticket will be the chance to win a joyride in the vintage Stearman biplane!

So get your helmet and goggles ready for a great day at Omaka!

Flying displays from 10am – 2.30pm
Parking available at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.


Omaka Wings & Wheels Day 25th August

Come and see the new Morane Saulnier installed in the foyer and enjoy the activity outside on the airfield, or tour the aviation exhibition and Omaka Classic Cars. There is a special Combo price to see both and the kids go free!

10am-2pm our members and friends will have their aircraft out of their hangars and on display, the Marlborough Aero Club will be running a bombing competition, plus there will be a sausage sizzle on the terrace.

A great fun day out now that Spring is here!


Ranked #1 Attraction in Blenheim on Trip Advisor

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor following consistently high ratings over the past year. It is also ranking as the number 1 attraction in Blenheim. Check out what visitors are saying on the TripAdvisor website


Grappling To Be On Top - Omaka's latest display

It’s 1914 and you’re high above the Russian Front, wrapped up in your flying gear, scarf, helmet and goggles. You’re flying a tiny monoplane constructed of wood and wire bracing, covered in fabric. As you search below, you spot an enemy aircraft climbing menacingly up towards you. Your aircraft is not equipped to carry guns but you do have one weapon, a grappling hook!

Such is the scenario that greets visitors to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, and its display of aviation from the Great War, known as the Knights of the Sky exhibition. The new exhibit was installed just last week in the reception foyer and is a full-scale replica Morane Saulnier G, as used by the Russian Ace, Aleksandr Kozakov.

Kozakov weilding his grappling hook in Omaka's newdisplayIn the early stages of the Great War, few aircraft were armed, but pilots soon began experimenting with ways to bring down the enemy and stop them spying on troop movements behind the lines. Some tried hurling bricks, others took pot shots with pistols or hunting rifles.

On the occasion depicted Kozakov flung a grappling hook on a long length of wire, with the intention of ripping apart the lightweight structure of his opponent’s machine. Unfortunately the two aircraft became entwined and Kozakov then attempted ramming his enemy in order to pull free. They both plummeted, until barely 200 feet from the ground, they disentangled and neither was killed. The German was taken prisoner and Kozakov went on to become Imperial Russia’s highest scoring Ace, using rather more conventional methods.

The idea of a Kozakov display had been in the back of CEO Jane Orphan’s mind ever since she had read about this bizarre episode. When Marlborough hosted the Russian rugby team during the Rugby World Cup, the idea gained traction and the Omaka AHC Board agreed to commission the build. Local enthusiast Dave Lochead was contracted to carry out the work, with the understanding that the wider aviation community would be on hand to volunteer expertise and facilities.  In fact it turned into quite a community project and took two years to complete.

The aircraft was built to airworthy standard, so one day the decision might even be made to remove it from static display and see if it will fly. Perhaps without the grappling hook!

In the meantime this new display is a dramatic welcome to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and sets the scene for the spectacular Knights of the Sky exhibition inside.


Omaka Wings & Wheels Day - Saturday 23rd June

We are holding a mid-winter Wings & Wheels Day, when our members place their aircraft out on display for the public to enjoy, along with machines from the neighbouring Omaka Classic Car collection.Yak-3 air to air by Gavin Conroy

Graeme Frew will be down from Auckland to fly his newly restored Yak-3 Russian fighter. The Yak first flew in March after rebuild at Omaka-based JEM Aviation and we are looking forward to seeing and hearing more of this V-12 Allison-powered fighter during the day.

Joining the Yak-3 in the line-up will be a number of WW1 aircraft, including the first public glimpse of the Morane Saulnier G, being built for display in the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre’s foyer.

Aircraft can be viewed from the fence line but we ask visitors not to cross over, as this is an active area and aircraft could be about to fire up their engines or taxi past.

Viewing the aircraft outside is free. There will be a sausage sizzle and hot soup for sale, and both the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and the Omaka Classic Cars will be open for visiting at the special Combo price of $30.



They’re coming to Omaka … the brand new 2012-2013 Entertainment Book, which features many of the area’s best restaurants, cafes, hotel accommodation, attractions and activities. Books are paked with hundreds of up to 50% off and 2-for-1 offers. Over $15,000 in total of valuable offers that your family can enjoy until June 2013!
The best part is that for only $65, you’ll be helping is fund-raise, with $13 from every book sold through us contributing to the expansion of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.Entertainment bk cover

Have a look at the new 2012/2013 Entertainment Book online now….

ORDER NOW …Entertainment™ Books are very popular and sell out fast!

For further details, please contact – Jane Orphan on (03) 579 1305

or email:

Available at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

or to order a Book NOW online go to


Prime MInister John Key Visits Omaka


Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was honoured to host Prime Minister John Key on Thursday 1 March, for his first visit to the facility. On arrival he enjoyed afternoon tea with Omaka Trustees and members of the Destination Marlborough Board, discussing tourism in the region. We were pleased to be able to tell the Prime Minister that Omaka was enjoying its highest tourist numbers since opening.John Key with Omaka trustees David Bamfiled, Jane Oprhan, Brian Greenall, Graham Orphan and Jay McIntyre

The Prime Minister then the toured the Knights of the Sky Great War exhibition and commented afterwards that it was not what he expected and that in fact he was “blown away”.

The Prime Minister is shown here with Omaka Trustees. From left: Trustee AVM David Bamfield (Rtd), Chief Executive Jane Orphan, Prime Minister John Key, Trustee Graham Orphan, Chair Brian Greenall and Trustee Jay McIntyre.




Sopwith Pup at Omaka Wings & Wheels Day

Omaka Wings & Wheels Day was a great success, with visitors enjoying a relaxed day, watching the flying overhead, and the classic cars and aircraft on the ground. The volunteers on the BBQ were very busy, with a sell-out on the sausages, while staff kept the coffees coming all day in the café.

Fw190 flying at Omaka Wings & Wheels

Taking to the air on Saturday was the Focke Wulf 190 (the only Fw190 in the Southern Hemisphere), the Chinese Nanchang CJ6a, the nimble little Nieuport 11 (a replica WW1 scout), three yellow-winged biplanes; the Tiger Moth, Fleet 16 and the Boeing Stearman. All three were military training aircraft during WW2 for the British Commonwealth, Canada and USA respectively. Others were on static display for the crowd along the fence line.

Nieport 11 at Omaka Wings & Wheels

While visitors enjoyed the outdoor spectacle, many took the opportunity to tour inside the Omaka Classic Car collection or the ‘Knights of the Sky’ Great War exhibition. The first sales of our Wings & Wheels Ambassador Cards were made and many people commented on what a great idea it was and that they will be back to bring their own visitors in to seeLIneup at Omaka Wings & Wheels the displays.




Thank you to The Breeze, Marlborough, for their support and to all our volunteers and to Gavin Conroy for the photographs



OMAKA WINGS & WHEELS DAY 4th FEB. 10am-2.00pm.

Omaka Wings & Wheels Day advert


We promised you a special day every second month and the next is Saturday 4th February. This day is designed for our members to display their own private aircraft and enjoy a social day with friends, family and the visiting public.

A highlight of the day is expected to be the awesome Focke Wulf 190, which pilot Frank Parker will be putting through its paces. The FW190 will be joined on the fence line by several WW1 machines, the Yak3, Boeing Stearman, Tiger Moth, Nanchangs and other local heritage aircraft, along with modern sport aircraft. Friends of the Bristol will be on hand to escort visitors through the Bristol Freighter.

A sausage sizzle will be on and there is always great coffee at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

As the names suggests, for this and future Omaka Wings & Wheels Days, we will be combining with our neighbours, Omaka Classic Cars. Not only with there be aircraft out on display and flying, but there will be a selection of classic cars to view as well. We hope that both displays will entice visitors inside to view the larger collections.

There is no charge for outside viewing but normal fees apply for the exhibitions, unless of course, you hold a Wings & Wheels Ambassador card… details below!

Breeze logo

Omaka Wings & Wheels Day is proudly supported by The Breeze, Marlborough





Because we recognise the pride that local Marlburians take in both the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and Omaka Classic Cars, we are launching the Wings & Wheels Ambassador Card.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre showcases human stories from the Great War brought to life with stunning theatrical treatment. Captivating scenes depict the aircraft in context, some recreating actual incidents.

Omaka Classic Cars is a collection of almost 60 cars from the 1950s to the 1980s offering a special insight into both Marlborough and New Zealand motoring from that charismatic time where space, grace, chrome bumbers, large grilles and individual design were allowed to run wild. From Austins to Zodiacs with Fords, Holdens, Jaguars and more, the range is extensive and changes every few months to include more of the 110 or so in the total collection.

Visiting the Aviation Heritage Centre costs $25 and Omaka Classic Cars $12.50. With a Wings & Wheels Ambassador Card you pay just $50 and receive 12 months unlimited access to both of these wonderful attractions. It is also a great gift idea – a thoughtful present that lasts for 12 months! Applications are via the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, 79 Aerodrome Rd, Omaka.

(To learn more about Omaka Classic Cars the link to their website is here


10 December Open Day Photos

Omaka Birthday lineupNieuport 11 airborne

There was a great lineup of aircraft on the 10th December to help us celebrate our birthday with the visiting public. Among them were the Fw190, Stearman, Tiger Moth, Bristol Fighter,Sopwith Pup, Fleet 16, Nanchang, Yak3 and Niueport 11 (which had only flown for the first time days before). Gavin Conroy photos

Pup and Bristol FighterStearman at Omaka birthdayFW190 at Omaka birthdayBristol Fighter at Omaka 5th


Birthday Dinner

On Friday evening 9th December, Omaka friends and supporters celebrated our first five years AND Christmas, with dinner in the reception foyer. 87 people enjoyed a delicious buffet menu and some of Marlborough’s finest wines from our sponsors.

Staff at Birthday dinner. Jane, Joanne, Grace, Sunet,Shona,Brittany and FionaOmaka dinner layoutJAne and Graham Orphan atbirthday dinnerOmaka birthday dinnerJane and Brian speaches at birthday dinnerRobyn Reid and Chic Anderson at birthday dinnerOmaka AHC birthday cakeOmaka birthday dinner

Brian Greenall, Chairman of The New Zealand Aviation Museum Trust and Jane Orphan, CEO spoke to the gathering, thanking everyone for their support. Staff, volunteers, trustees and sponsors were praised, as were the many individuals who have helped to run the highly successful Classic Fighters, our biennial fundraising air show.

birthday dinnerBirthday dinneromaka dinnerMarty Nichol and Bill Reid at omaka birthday
Since Dec 2006 over 134,000 people from around the world have visited the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Omaka birthdayJohna Evans, Brian Greenall, Graham Orphan at Omaka birthday dinnerOmaka birthdayOmaka birthday dinner

Rex Handley and Jerry Chisum at Omaka birthdayMorelands at Omaka birthdayOmaka birthdayDan Frew at Omaka birthday dinnerRichard Herd, Heather and Nick Fulton atBirthday dinner


Birthday Bash Saturday 10 Dec

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is about to turn five! To celebrate we are having a 1/2 price day, so adult admission is just $12.50 and children $5. We will also round up some of the local aircraft, as per our Members' Flying Days. They will be parked along the fence line and many will take to the air at times during the day. This is not an air show, but there will be some rather interesting aircraft on view. So come over and tour the amazing Knights of the Sky exhibition, inspect the aircraft and even enjoy a piece of birthday cake on us!



Wednesday, November 16 from 5.30-7.00pm at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.Precious Metal Book Launch

Aviation fans will be familiar with Gavin Conroy's magnificent Air 2 Air photography, which has been featured in international aviation publications and also in his calendars, which have covered the Omaka Aviation Hertiage Centre, Classic Fighters, The Vintage Aviator Ltd and New Zealand Warbirds aircraft.

Now Gavin has published his eagerly awaited book and the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is delighted to host the launch function, to which there is an open invitation.

RRP is $59.99 but for the launch night only the price will be $55.00

Gavin is offering everyone that comes along the opportunity to go into a draw for a free ride in a Nanchang while Air 2 Air photos are taken of the winner. The flight will only be available on the night of the launch and is subject to weather and serviceability.

If you will be attending this launch, please rsvp to us here at Omaka. See our contact page for details



Another little milestone took place on 4th October with the first engine run of the little Morris Penguin in, we believe, over half a century. Watch on youtube

This is quite an historic machine. The Henderson engine has a place in history having powered so many of the early single seat flivvers from the late 1920's onwards, like the Heath Parasol, Clancy Skybaby, Dormoy 'Bathtub', Church midwing etc etc. but you rarely see them today. 

This machine was built in Sydney in the 1930's by a chap named Howard who wanted his kids to become interested in aviation. Both sons later became Qantas 747 captains, so it seems to have done its job! The aircraft later went to Sid Marshall's famous collection at Bankstown, NSW, initially used as a sign to attract people to his joyflight operation, and later in his museum. It was subsequently included in the Drage Airworld collection at Wodonga, and then at Wangaratta, Vic. When that collection was sold, AHC trustee bought it and brought it back to Omaka with the syndicate Tiger Moth, (now ZK-BER). The Penguin has essentially been stored however Al Marshall did some initial overhaul work on it, and this was continued by Scott Tudor who took on the complete overhaul under the direction of Dan Frew of JEM Aviation, and with Hayden Sutton helping from time to time. That these lads are all aged between 19 and 27 shows that the next generation is definitely producing the right calibre of individuals to be taking over the care of these historic aircraft in the years ahead!

It is hoped to refine the airframe a little now, in order to prepare the Penguin for a return to its original role of encouraging youngsters into the world of aviation!




Some Background History:

31 July 1967             First flight at Douglas factory in Long Beach, California.
29 April 1968           Delivery to US Navy
26 October 1969     Commenced operational service in Vietnam off aircraft carrier USS Ranger
2 August 1969          Continued operational service in Vietnam off USS Hancock
31 July 1970             Conversion begins to A4G model prior to sale to Australia
18 March 1971        Delivery to Royal Australian Navy
20 July 1984            Delivered to RNZAF Base Ohakea on sale to New Zealand.   Converted to A4K model
11 December 2001 Final flypast at Ohakea
13 December 2001 RNZAF Air Combat Force disbanded
18 December 2001 Final flight into storage at RNZAF Base Woodbourne

The Skyhawk fleet has been maintained in storage by SAFEAIR under the auspices of the Air Combat Force Disposal Unit at Ohakea
The ACF Disposal Unit removed NZ6216 from storage on 24 September 2011 and prepared it for delivery to the Omaka AHC
The aircraft had its latex protective coating stripped off, and the following items were removed:
             - The engine and some avionic components which formed part of the package beinSkyhawk being prepared for transportation from Woodbourneg sold overseas
             - All weapons and munitions capability
             - Ballast weights

Delivery to Omaka was made as a donation to the AHC by Arthur Deans Lifting, a well known Blenheim company, who transported the aircraft on a low-loader and lifted it into its new hangar. Arthur Deans is also involved in other Skyhawk deliveries.   In those cases, the aircraft are being dismantled while NZ6216 was taken to Omaka intact.   Transport was in the dark, early hours of the morning of 29 September along New Renwick Road. Our thanks also to Simcox Construction who assisted with earthworks to improve some difficult terrain enroute.Skyhawk night transport

At Omaka, AHC staff will continue with the cleaning of the aircraft after its years in storage and commence a routine maintenance programme set out by the RNZAF.   This will not be onerous as several AHC members and supporters have Skyhawk maintenance experience by way of service with the RNZAF and/or SAFEAIR.
NZ6216 will eventually be displayed in the main AHC complex as it expands to cover more recent aviation.   Meanwhile, along with other aircraft associated with the AHC, it will be housed in the industry park complex alongside the AHC building, which is periodically open to visitors.

Delivery of the Skyhawk to Omaka
The Omaka AHC is particularly grateful for all the invaluable assistance provided by the RNZAF, RNZAF Museum, Arthur Deans Lifting, Simcox Construction, JEM Aviation, SAFEAIR and all our members and supporters who have made this project a success.Chairman Brian Greenall and Trustee David Bamfield sign the  bailment agreement for the Skyhawk

Finally, thank you to the New Zealand Government who, from the outset, selected the Omaka AHC as a custodian of one of these very historically significant aircraft, and their trust in us.




Jay McIntyre of JEM Aviation has provided storage space for the SkyhawkPhotos from top tp bottom: Skyhawk 6216 being loaded at Base Woodbourne ready fpr transport; Extra stability for the trip was provided by the A4 aft fuselage hoist, which worked perfectly; By dawn the Skyhawk was being manouevred into its new storage hangar at Omaka; Chair Brian Greenall (right) and Trustee David Bamfield AVM retired, sign the Bailment Agreement for the Skyhawk on behalf of The New Zealand Aviation Museum Trust; Jay McIntyre, also a Trustee, has made space in his hangar for storing the Skyhawk.



Next Open Day will be Saturday 8 October Advert for Open Day 8 Nov

10am -4pm


The magnificent Yak3, Russian WW2 fighter will be on display and taking to the air during the day. It will be joined on the fenceline, by another Yak being restored at the JEM Aviation hangar.

Vintage biplanes Boeing Stearman, Tiger Moth and Fleet 16 will be there and a range of classic tail-draggers and the Nanchangs. There will be tours of the big Bristol Freighter and you can expect it to fire up those engines around mid-day.

The Marlborough Aero Club will have their fleet out and available for trial/scenic flights, and they will be joined by a variety of aircraft privately owned by Club members.

The event is free of charge but while visiting, you may wish to take the opportunity to view the Great War Knights of the Sky exhibition or the Marlborough Classic Cars. Both will be open and the usual fees apply. Tickets to either museum can be purchased at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.



Open Day 24 September

OPne Day lineup


A great day was had by all when we combined with the Marlborough Aero Club for a Open Day/Flying Day on Saturday 24th September. Our members brought their own aircraft out to be displayed for the public, plus a number took the opportunity to enjoy some flying, especially the 3-seat Boeing Stearman, which is soon to become available for commercial joy rides.

Bristol start up




The Bristol Freighter blew copious quantities of smoke when it fired up its Hercules engines and many visitors enjoyed touring through the Bristol's interior and cockpit.



Yak3 airborne




Undoubtably the highlight of the day was the aerial display by Arthur Dovey in his WW2 Yak 3 fighter. Arthur flew up from his home base in Wanaka to join us. He has left his precious Yak here at Omaka with the intention of repeating the performance at out next Open Day on November 8th.






Offical Capping Ceremony for the Russian Team

Russian Capping ceremony


On September 8th, the Russian team’s official Capping Ceremony took place in a marquee on our grass terrace with around 200 guests attending. They turned out to be an enthusiastic and good-natured bunch who enjoyed touring the museum, as well as clambering over and into most of the aircraft parked outside!




Russians and Bristol FreighterRussians with Nieuport


Russian guests enjoying Omaka


Russian Aircraft At Omaka

With Marlborough hosting the Russian rugby team during the World Cup, it was decided to make them feel especially welcome by painting a number of aircraft in Russian schemes. In addition to the Hurricane, as seen below, two Nieuports (owned by NZAMT trustees) also took on Russian plumage.

Nieuport 11 in Russina scheme

The N.11 in the Classic Wings hangar has been finished in the colours of a later Nieuport 24, and wears post-revolution red-star markings. The aircraft is complete and has had its first engine so will soon be ready for CAA inspection. JEM Aviation have been hugely helpful in completing this project. The aircraft will eventually be refinished in its intended French colours.

Nieuport 16 with Russian Mermaid schemeThe second Nieuport is the N.16 being completed by Eric Driver, Rex Handley and Brian Greenall and this is wearing earlier pre-revolution markings of red/white/blue Russian roundels and some very distinctive artwork.

A third representative Russian machine of the WW-I era is the Morane Saulnier ‘G’ being built by Dave and Jim Lochead supported by a stella team of volunteers. The intention was to create a specific Russian display and there could be no more creative a story to tell than that of Alexander Kozakov who was known for his innovative ways of attacking enemy aircraft, including his outrageous attempts to snare unsuspecting German machines with a grappling hook and blow them up with explosives. The replica being built for the museum is intended to be airworthy, but not flown in the short term as it has a static role to play first. It is hoped that in the future, the Morane will be completed to flying condition and will be able to take part in the planned regular flying days associated with the AHC in the years ahead.



Hurricane in Bunty Bunt's colours
Our resident Hurricane gate guardian enjoyed a subtle change of colour scheme earlier in the year to appear in the markings of one of three examples used by RAF 43 Sqn. During a period in WW-II when our own Bunty Bunt was flying Spitfires on the squadron. Bunty naturally flew the Hurricanes from to time as well and has fond memories of the type, so we thought it would be appropriate to repaint our resident machine as one of Bunty’s Hurricanes in time for the Easter Airshow. Amazingly, Bunty was tracked down by a serving officer in RAF 43 Sqn and Jo was quick to grab the opportunity of photographing the two together with ‘their’ Hurricane!
Hurricane in Russian markingsWith the RWC looming, the Hurricane colours changed again to represent a lend-lease machine operated by the Red Air Force. There is a specific NZ connection with the Russian Hurricane via the RAF commanding officer Ramsbottom-Isherwood. He was a New Zealander who lived in Marlborough and even flew with the Marl Aero Club pre-war.


Holiday Fun - Find Curtiss the Kiwi

Curtiss the kiwi


Curtiss and his friends are hiding in all sorts of places around the museum. Follow the clues to find him. All correct entries win a prize!





Major changes to the exhibition

The last three weeks leading up to Easter saw the arrival of a team from the 14-18 Heritage Trust who came to recreate the memorabilia displays to include the second hallway, previously kept on hold as an arcade of a small number of large photographs.German memorabilia

The team, led by the very creative Joe Bleakley, set about pulling out much of the existing display area and creating a new mix that includes an extraordinary range of remarkable original artefacts, naturally mostly from WW-I but also including some pioneering materials as well as some related post-WW-I artefacts. The new displays are truly remarkable and once again underpin just how lucky this community, and indeed the whole of New Zealand is, to have someone with the amazing combination of knowledge, passion and commitment that we have seen from Sir Peter Jackson as Chairman of the 14-18 Heritage Trust that has gathered this material from around the globe to make it available here at Omaka. How very privileged we all are!

Thomous Morse ScoutIn addition to the memorabilia displays, the aircraft displays at the Omaka AHC have also experienced some changes. Leaving are the Albatros B.II and the D.H.5 and the Bristol Fighter structure from the workshop scene. Returning is the R.E.8, now joined by the lovely and very large Curtiss MF flying boat, an original from the WW-I era, and the unusual Thomas Morse Scout, this example modified post-war as a two-seater. The Fokker Triplane display of three of the Jasta 11 machines has grown once again to its full complement, but now comprising the aircraft of Manfred and Lothar von Richthofen, Wenzel and Weiss. For the first time, these have been displayed ‘shoulder to shoulder’ adding dramatically to the presence commanded by this significant collection of machines.  The Omaka AHC has never looked better.


Conference Delegates Enjoy an Evening at Omaka  

Actuaries conference delegates arrive at Omaka

Delegates from the Actuaries Conference held in Marlborough were treated to a themed evening at Omaka, which included a code-breaking exercise with the clues found inside the exhibition.

All our guides were dressed in period uniform and additional re-enactors and their equipment were on hand to lend some authenticity.

Three lucky delegates won joy flights in the Nanchang, Tiger Moth and Fleet.


Nanchang, Tiger and Fleet ready for joy flightsJay assists one of the delegates into the Tiger Moth


Bunty celebrates a Milestone


Bunty clebrates his 90thOne of our most popular guides celebrated his 90th Birthday with a cocktail function at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.  Family and friends travelled from around the country to share the day with Bunty.
Photo: Marty Nichol presents Bunty with a replica Spitfire stick grip. Left of Marty is Mayor Alistair Sowman, Bunty in his guide’s uniform, local historian Robert Montgomery and Trevor Kearney.



The Great Kiwi Road Trippitstop promo

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is one of the Pit Stops on the Great Kiwi Road Trip, organised by AA Travel.

While you are on the road, call in and collect our special PASSWORD. Collect these and you could be in to win a Mazda 2! Check out the details of the competition and great travel tips on the AA website



Visitor number 100,000!

On 26 August we celebrated our 100,000th visitor to Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, with champagne and a gift package for our lucky customer. A young couple from Motueka, Nathan Howes and Jess Tegroen had been touring the South Island when they saw the Omaka sign and made an on-the-spot decision to drop in. Their visit took us past the milestone number.Congratulations Nathan and Jess!


Toby Simpson

School Holiday Challenge Winner!

Toby and Shona










The entry from nine year old Toby Simpson of Wellington was judged the competition winner. Tony's entry was carefully drawn with distinctive New Zealand themes for each of the insignias - a Tuatara for the South Island and a Weta for the North.

Toby's was one of many colourful entries that came in from around the country. There is plenty of imagination out there and we loved seeing the creative work from so many children. Well done to everyone who entered!

Shona Renner from the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was traveling through Wellington, so she offered to present the prize in person. Toby's choice was the Soviet MiG fighter.


School Holiday Challenge

Imagine if the North and South Islands of New Zealand had separate Air Forces in WW1. The challenge for these school holidays is to design an Air Force insignia for each Island. Visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre to pick up your forms or download them from this site. Visit the museum and check out all the original colourschemes and insignias for some inspiration and then let your own creativity run wild!

Attach your entry receipt to your form and submit by Sunday 18th July to be in to win a Century 21 Starfighter or MiG 1:18 scale model valued at $150!

To download forms click here: South Island and North Island

Good luck!


Anzac Day Opening Hours

On 25 April we will not open until 1pm, out of respect for our service men and women. The majority of our guides and staff attend the morning parade.


Classic Fighters Omaka 2009 DVDClassic Fighters 2009 DVD cover


Over the Easter weekend of 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand hosted one of the most colourful, fast-paced and spectacular aviation events ever held in the southern hemisphere. The hugely successful Classic Fighters show has been recorded for all time in this dramatic DVD production, designed to reflect that iconic event with the same punchy, exciting tempo as the show itself, ensuring you'll want to watch it many times, AND book your tickets for the next Classic Fighters show in 2011!

Link to YouTube Release Trailer

The DVD is receiving rave reviews from people from around the world. Buy your copy online NOW!

"Congratulations on a fantastic DVD that manages to show the event as it was. An unforgetable experience!" P. Marton, Australia.

"I received my 2009 DVD in the mail today! It is awesome and incredible! Thank you for your efforts. I am going to hopefully arrange to make plans to attend in 2011!" R. Apitz, USA


The following is a review in the California-based publication Pacific Flyer

by Editor Wayman Dunlap


"Classic Fighters Omaka 2009
We've never been to New Zealand but here's something we didn't know, those Kiwis really know how to put on a warbird show.
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Center sent us a DVD that runs almost an hour about their 2009 show that was held Easter weekend in Marlborough, NZ. It was, truly, one of the best produced, best edited, most colorful and had the best background music of any DVD I've ever seen.
They only hold this show every two years and it's conducted entirely to fund the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center. Truly, the action never stops, shot from the ground and in the air by true professionals.
Here's a taste of what's on it: Yak formation flight, F4U Corsair, Venetian gondaliers being chased by a shark (trust us) across a field, several hundred reenactors with everything from WW II and WW I, including an actual moving tank with a working machine gun, a race car with a Merlin engine, a Vespa team that comes flooding out of giant twin engined Bristol transport, two UH-1 Hueys, a five plane formation act (the Red Checkers) whose planes were originally built by a lawnmower company, a P-40 Kittyhawk with Flying Tiger teeth, a freshly restored, authentic British Spitfire, a P-51D, T-6s, a DC-3, and as a special guest of the reenactors, Benito Mussolini.
A full pitched battle went on between the Kiwis and the Germans, with ground attacks, cannon fire (they even have a 105mm howitzer they fired), three rare deHavillands from the '30s, all flying - a DH-89 Dragon Rapide, A DH-83 Fox Moth and a DH-90 Dragon Fly (many shot air to air, beautiful!). Then the WW I fighters - British, French and German - took the air for some creative dogfighting.
Then a restored Avro 504K was rolled out, plus an Royal Air Corps BE2F, also "painstakingly restored."
The owners/pilots of many of these planes had pithy comments, often in funny accents, explaining how many hours went into rebuilding them - the Spitfire took 35,000 hours, for example - plus insightful comments from narrator Peter "Mac" McQuarters. The weather at Marlborough was absolutely fantastic for an airshow and they even held a night show, with fireworks and aerobatic formation flying!
The DVD we got wouldn't play on our old machine at home, so we brought it into the office and plugged it into our new MacBook Pro and it displayed beautifully. They told me that it's supposed to be playable on any set anywhere (except the one we have at home, made in 1895). The price of the DVD was about $29 but I lost the news release so check out their website at to find out and order one.
You'll want to watch this one again and we want one of our readers to have ours, so if you're interested, send an e-mail to and put "Kiwi DVD" in the subject line. You have until the 25th.


Happy Birthday!!


Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is turning 3 on the 9th December 2009.

To celebrate we will be offering 1/2 price entry and a piece of Birthday cake, so come on down to see us. We open as usual at 10am and the 'Friends of the Bristol' will have the Bristol Freighter open for inspection from 11am.


Bristol Freighter Open Days

The magnificent ex-Safe Air Bristol Freighter ZK-CPT has taken up temporary residence alongside the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. Since its time in the limelight at Classic Fighters, the Bristol has been called upon to fire up its engines on sevBristol Freightereral occasions, most notably for the Aviation Industry Association dinners at Omaka in late July.

Now, members of the 'Friends of the Bristol' plan to hold open days, when they will be available to show visitors inside the aircraft and talk about its operational history. The first se open days are timed to coincide with the School Holidays:

Saturday 3rd October 11.00am - 3.00pm and Sunday 11th October 11.00am - 3.00pm.

Open Days:

Wednesday 9 December 11.00am - 3.00pm

Saturday 21 November 11.00am - 3.00pm


During late Summer/Autumn, the Bristol has been frequently open for tours. An announcment is made inside the museum to let visitors know. If you have a special request regarding the Bristol or wish to ensure it will be open on the day you visit, please contact us.



In an exciting new initiative a significant aircraft collection is being assembled in New Zealand. The collection brings together two fighters from the First World War and two from the Second World War. Company CEO is Murray Miers, a Kiwi based in Africa. Murray has a deep interest in both the historical aspects of these machines and in the flying qualities they offer the pilot and he intends to become fully familiar operating each of these aircraft.

The first aeroplane purchased for the collection was the Le Rhone powered Sopwith Pup Sopwith Pup belonging to Chariots of Fire Collectionbuilt in 1961 by noted pioneer of WW-I aircraft reproductions, Joe Pfeiffer in California. This machine is now nearing the end of refurbishment by Antique Aero Engineering at Omaka. When completed it will fly in the colours of New Zealand WW-I ace Malcolm 'Mac' McGregor. Perhaps better known for his post-war flying (including participation in historic races such as the 1934 McRobertson event), McGregor scored the first of his aerial victories in Pup A6192 on 6th June 1917 when he downed an Albatros D.III near Cambrai. McGregor so liked A6192 that he christened it 'Peggy' in honour of his sister.

Chariots of Fire Fokker DVIIIThe second WW-I machine is a Fokker D.VIII reproduction built in the USA by the late Paul Musso and powered by an Australian built Rotec R.3600 radial of 150hp. This machine provides a German combatant for the Pup but will be undergoing some additional work before it commences flying with the collection.

Due for delivery later this year is the FlugWerk FW190A-8/N produced by Claus Colling's team in Germany. This is actually the first of the FlugWerk production aircraft, D-FWWC and as such, made history on 22nd July 2004 when it was the first 'Butcher Bird' to take to the skies anywhere in the world CHariots of Fire Fw190since the war years. Claus' team has been upgrading the aircraft with improved oil cooling and other systems resulting from experience gained with the subsequent FW190 completions. The Chariots of Fire Focke Wulf wears the colours of Luftwaffe Ace Erich Rudorffer of JG54 and is expected to be flying in New Zealand before the end of the year, with a public debut to be scheduled for Omaka, Blenheim once the arrival time has been confirmed.

The latest acquisition for the collection is the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIVe NH799 which was purchased through John Rayner of Platinum Fighter sales in association with Classic Aircraft Sales New Zealand. This significant fighter was recovered as a derelict from its long term resting place in India in 1981 and returned to the UK where it was eventually restored by Historic Flying Ltd for the Alpine Fighter Collection at Wanaka, N.Z. making its public debut at the 1994 Wanaka airshow. Sadly, the aircraft was involved in a serious accident in early 1996 when pilot Sir Tim Wallis was severely injured. Thankfully Sir Tim beat the odds and fought back Chariots of Fire Spitfirefrom his injuries to continue to be one of the most significant figures in the 'downunder' warbird scene.

After the 1996 accident, Spitfire NH799 changed hands several times while being worked on by Warren and Colin Denholm's AVSpecs operation, originally in Rotorua and now at Ardmore, Auckland. Work has been intermittent on this machine due to ownership changes. Now under CFFC ownership, the intention is to 'spool-up' the work on NH799, the logical decision being made to have AVSpecs Ltd., now internationally recognized as an award-winning Spitfire specialist shop, complete the job they started over a decade ago after which the Spitfire will take up residence with the ret of the collection at Omaka, Blenheim.

The aircraft of the Chariot of Fire Fighter Collection will be available for film work, airshows appearances and promotional work. For inquiries contact or phone NZ 03-578 9609.


Stuka on show ahead of AIA Conference

The full-size replica Stuka built by Lester Hope and his team of dedicated volunteers for Classic Fighters, was moved to its new location outside the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre on 19 July. Here it joins its contemporary adversary, the replica Hawker Hurricane. Both were in position in time for the Aviation Industry Association Conference held in Blenheim over the last week in July. Stuka and Hurricane outside Omaka AHC

A marquee at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was the venue for two evening dinners and over 300 visitors were greeted with the magic spectacle of these two aircraft spotlit at night, as they arrived to enjoy their evenings’ entertainment. To add to the festivities, Al Marshall and Martin Nichol fired up the Bristol Freighter nearby, much to the appreciation of the many engineers present, who fondly remembered its glory days.


Modeling Competition Results

Competitors had a busy time getting their models completed for judging on Sunday, but the results were well worth the effort. Paul Fitzgerald from the Blenheim Modeling Club reported that a high standard kept the judging close, but the following came out as winners. Our congratulations go to:

Over 14 yrs 1st Brynn Davys

10-13 yrs 1st Jesse Dempster (also judged overall best model)

Under 10 yrs Jacob Babb

The raffle for the Hurricane model was won by Harcourt Bunt.


School Holiday Modeling Competition

During the July school holidays we are again running an aircraft modeling competition. Be in to win great prizes! Three age categories: Under 10 yrs, 10-13 yrs and 14 yrs & over. Models must be presented by 4pm on Saturday 18th July for judging at 1pm Sunday 19th July.

Only models purchased at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre will be eligible to enter the competition. These are on special for the whole month of July with a 20% discount!

This year we also have the local Blenheim Modeling Club on hand, giving a demonstration during Sunday 5th July. The subject aircraft will be our own Hawker Hurricane, which will be raffled off to a luck winner, drawn on Sunday 19th. The Club has a range of other models on display and members will make themselves available for questions.



A remarkable Sunbeam racing car powered by one of the largest aero-engines to come out of a World War One aircraft, has just arrived at New Zealand's Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim.

The Sunbeam was created during the late 1990's by noted New Zealand restorer Wallace McNair of Hamilton who conceived it in the spirit of the Sunbeam Land Speed Record cars of the post WW-I era.Wallace used original Sunbeam components to build up the car, coupled with a rare 1917 Sunbeam Maori V-12 aircraft engine originally built for use in such aircraft as the Handley Page O/400 twin-engined bomber. These imposing aircraft, with a wingspan of 100ft (30 m) were the largest machines operated by Britain during the Great War. The Maori engine is a 12 litre, aluminium block, 48 valve, quad cam producing 270hp @ 2100 rpm. It was considered Sunbeam's most successful aero engine. There were close to 1000 of these engines built before the close of hostilities in 1918, but only 3 are known to exist today.Sunbeam Maori engined car

The chassis is a 1924 Sunbeam 24/60 with a close ratio 4 speed gearbox driving back to a 1.9 :1 rear axle giving 55 mph / 1000 rpm in top, ie. 1800 rpm = 100 mph with the engine redlined at 2400. Since going on the road in 1999 it has toured extensively in NZ and in April 2008 completed a 10 day tour of Tasmania. It has also taken part in a number of Hill Climbs in NZ. This amazing vehicle is considered a direct descendant of the 1914 Sunbeam GP cars which were 3 litre 4 cylinder, but of the same configuration.

The Sunbeam will be on display at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre for several weeks prior to the Classic Fighters airshow this coming Easter. This remarkable vehicle will be run along the crowd line during the airshow, so spectactors will have the unique opportunity to hear this engine in full growl! The Sunbeam will then be up for auction, with the date expected to be Easter Monday. Further details to be confirmed.



Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre hosts its first fine art exhibition called ‘Boys Own’ – a collection of original oil paintings by leading international aviation and marine artist, Spike Wademan.

Spike’s BOYS OWN Exhibition is the culmination of two years work and includes some of his finest paintings to date.  His love for the subject matter shines through in his work, which goes beyond mere nuts and bolts to skillfully capture a moment in time or tell a story. Spike Wademan at work

“My paintings are inspired by a love of history. I wish I’d been there to see it live,” said Spike.

The name of the exhibition is taken from a boy’s annual Spike read as a child in England. “I was given it every year for Christmas and it was full of amazing illustrations and stories of voyages across the oceans,  dare-devil pilots, and hunting expeditions into deepest Africa. …………………………………..Sadly this book no longer exists.”

Spike carefully researches each painting, which sometimes proves to be a difficult task, “as there is so little information available before the 1930’s as cameras weren’t that clever back then,” he said. “The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is a great resource especially for myWW1 paintings as it has an extensive collection of full size WW1 aircraft.”Pfalz and Se5 painting by Spike Wademan

Spike has a long association with Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, having illustrated three posters for the Centre's Classic Fighter Airshow, and just finished the 2009 poster which many think is the best yet.

It is hoped that the exhibition will attract new visitors to the museum including art enthusiasts and Marlborough’s sailing community, as many of the paintings are of grand old ships upon the high seas.

The exhibition opens this Saturday January 24 and runs to April 13 2009.

Spike and the Omaka Aviation and Heritage Centre invite you to the opening of the ‘BOYS OWN’ exhibition this Saturday January 24, 6pm.

Come and experience first-hand a world of adventure and daring, beauty and tragedy, staged against history’s vivid backdrop.



24 January at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Vehicles and aircraft will be on display on the grass area outside the museum, with the auction commencing at 3pm. For full details and catalogue, please click here



Tevor Lummis auctioneer
Contact details:
Box 205
New Zealand
Phone ++64 3 528 7185
Fax ++ 64 3 528 8199




Members' BBQ & Flying Day 29 November

Saturday morning dawned calm and clear for what was to be a delightful BBQ breakfast and relaxed flying day for members of Marlborough Warbirds & Friends of the AHC.
AHC staff and volunteers manned the BBQs while flying members brought their aircraft over to be parked up Members aircraft at Omakaalong the fence line, for everyone to enjoy. Many took the opportunity to take friends for joyflights, so members of the public, who were lucky to have chosen this day for a visit to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, were treated to a spectacle of around a dozen classic aircraft coming and going from the historic airfield. These included two Tiger Moths, Taylorcraft, Fleet 16, Porterfield, Aeronca, Andrews Special, Pietenpol Aircamper, baby Cub and Nanchang, along with a sprinkling of modern machines. In addition the magnificent Lockheed 12a, soon to fly again after some extensive repair work, was on show, as well as the recently acquired Waco project.

Omaka Supreme Regional Winner

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre’s volunteers have won the Supreme Award at the Trust Power Marlborough Community Awards, announced on Monday 24 November. The award was in recognition of the many hours these volunteers give in order to share their knowledge and passion for aviation with the community.
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is a seven day a week operation, so the demand on volunteers is considerable, yet they are always happy and willing to be there. Whether it is giving a fully guided tour to a group of international visitors or answering questions from a local school group, the volunteers fill a vital role. Each has his or her own background in aviation to draw on, which provides a depth of understanding and experience that would be hard to match. We have both air and ground crew from the Second World War and Korea, commercial airlines, engineering, topdressing and recreational flying. Ask any question about aviation and at least one of our volunteers will know the answer, often from first hand experience.
Congratulations on a well deserved win!

BrequetNew Breguet Exhibit

A Breguet 14 A2 has gone on display. It will temporarily replace the R.E.8. Both two-seat aircraft were used in reconnaissance and bombing roles.
Read more »

Announcing the Winners of the Modelling Competition 20 July

Under 10s
1st Ryan Appleby (Tiger Moth), 2nd Lachlan Buchanan-Brown (RAAF Spitfire MkVc), 3rd Rosanna Buchanan-Brown (Tiger Moth).

10 -13 Years
1st Hamish Buchanan-Brown (Spad XIII), 2nd Hayley Appleby (Hawker Siddeley Gnat) 3rd Hamish Hayes (Spitfire Mk V)

14 Years and over
1st Pim Greven (Avro Anson), 2nd Andrew Morgan (Me 210), 3rd Luke Ireton (Boeing B-29)

Our congratulations to everyone! The competition was stiff and our two judges, Dave Lochead (of Kiwi Resin Models) and Graham Orphan (Classic Wings magazine) had to make some hard calls to rank the entries. We are all looking forward to the next opportunity to see the craftsmanship of our local modellers.

Modeling Competition Underway

When wintery weather drives you indoors, why not try your hand at modelling? Talk to the guys at Weta Workshop and you'll hear how they got started on a childhood hobby that grew into a career with an award-winning company.

Aircraft models at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre are reduced 25% for the entire month of July and we have a great range of Humbrol paints and glues.

A competition is being run over the school holidays, open to anyone who purchases their model at the Omaka AHC. Entries must be in by Saturday 19 July for judging on Sunday 20th. Models will be on display during Sunday, with the winners announced at 1pm.

There are three age categories: Under 10 yrs; 10-13 Yrs; 14yrs and over (adults welcome).

Vintage Car Club visits Omaka

Vintage Car Club visits Omaka over Easter'08

Hundreds of vintage cars gathered outside the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre on Easter Sunday. The local Vintage Car Club was hosting the National South Island Rally, drawing an eclectic mix of automobiles from around the country. Omaka was on their list of attractions.

As a result, Easter Sunday became one of our busiest days of the year, with over 600 visitors. Staff and volunteers were rushed off their feet! Vintage Car ClubThere was a lot of good will though and plenty of smiling faces, as visitors enjoyed a picnic on the terrace after their tour of the exhibition.

A special thank you to staff, guides and volunteer helpers for pulling together to make the day a great success for all.


Airpark opening by Mayor Alistair Sowman and Trust Chairman Brian Greenall

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman has officially opened the first group of hangars that make up the launch buildings for the Omaka Air Park. In a ceremony that took place on 1st March, Omaka AHC Chairman Brian Greenall explained the philosophy of the organisation and its quest to foster continued growth of aviation in Marlborough, and in vintage aviation especially.

Mayor Sowman reflected on the successes of the related activities at Omaka, specifically the popular biennial Classic Fighters Easter airshow and the highly acclaimed Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, all under the support of the Marlborough Aero Club, owners of the historic field. After outlining the exciting developments of the recent past, The Mayor cut a ribbon stretched between two vintage biplanes (a Tiger Moth and a Fleet 16B) and the Air Park was declared officially open.

The first three hangars completed, each 20m x 25m, all have vintage/warbird focused activities within and have already become homes to over a dozen aircraft and projects, some of them having just arrived in the country. Two more hangars are already well advanced with additional customers lining up. One of the first owners is JEM Aviation, a maintenance and restoration company that has seen owner operator Jay McIntyre with a 'full dance card' for every day of his first year in operation prior to moving into the new premises.

These developments all augur well for continued growth in this exciting part of the country.

Catalina visits Omaka

Catalina over omaka Air ParkOmaka was graced with a visit from the beautiful Auckland-based Catalina on Thursday 21 February. Members of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and guests had the opportunity to experience a cost-sharing flight, and as a result the Catalina made two 30 min flights over the Marlborough coast and countryside.

Catalinas were used during the Second World War for maritime patrol and in the “Dumbo” role of air-sea rescue. No Catalinas survived in New Zealand, so we are privileged to enjoy this example, which was purchased by the Catalina Club and flown out from Africa in the mid 1990s.

Gavin Conroy flew alongside and caught this wonderful photograph of the PBY over Omaka Aerodrome.

NZ Vintage Bentley Tour

Vintage Bentleys at OmakaThe Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is proving a popular destination for car enthusiasts, especially those out touring the country in rallies with their respective clubs.

One of the world’s most prestigious marks converged on the AHC on 4 February. These were Bentleys of the 1920s-30s era, shipped here from around the globe.

What a magnificent sight they made, Bentleys with Fleet 16b and Tiger Moth at Omaka parked Bentleys with Fleet 16b and Tiger Moth at Omaka together outside our building!

Joining them were two resident Omaka aircraft of a similar vintage, a Fleet 16b and a Tiger Moth.

Billboard Successfully Installed

Pigeon release from Omaka

Our advertising billboard was successfully delivered by carrier pigeon and assembled in downtown Wellington on Thursday 29 November.

Soldiers in period costume installed the pieces of jigsaw puzzle over a two-week period, with Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor on hand for the finishing touches.

Peter Hill of the Wellington Pigeon Fanciers Club confirmed that every bird arrived back home safely after its Cook Strait crossing, Peter Hill retrieving messages from pigeonsPeter Hill retrieving messages from pigeonsbut several billboard fragments have remained “missing in Peter Hill retrieving messages from pigeonsaction”.

TV One carried the story view here.

And further footage of the event can be watched on YouTube and Weta.

The billboard will be in place on the corner of Dixon and Victoria Streets until the end of December. A timelapse film of the installation can be viewed.Richard Taylor installs the final sections of billboard


Stuart Tantrum and Martin Nicholl getting ready to release the pigeons from outside the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Peter Hill retrieving the 'messages' from his returning pigeons.

Richard Taylor installing one of the final sections.

Richard Taylor and some of the re-enactors who assisted with the billboard installation.

Richard Taylor adn re-enacters

Media Release: Pigeon Post Revived for omaka

The world's first advertising billboard to be delivered by pigeon leaves Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim on Friday aboard 289 homing pigeons.

Each of the 289 pigeons will carry a small piece of the billboard strapped to its leg. The birds will fly to Wellington where the billboard will be pieced together over a period of days in a prominent, central Wellington site.

The purpose of the billboard is to encourage Wellingtonians to visit Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre's world-class collection of World War One fighter planes over the Christmas period.

The Centre opened in December 2006, and features a collection of aircraft in lifelike exhibits created by Weta Workshop. It is widely acknowledged as one of the world's best World War One aviation experiences.

Jane Orphan from the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, said delivering the billboard by pigeon is a celebration of the important role played by homing pigeons during World War One.

"Authenticity is everything in our exhibits, so it was a natural choice to deliver our billboard to Wellington by the most authentic World War One means - homing pigeon," she said.

"Communications technology was still very rudimentary during World War One, so pigeons were used extensively for communicating to and from the battlefront. Over 100,000 pigeons were used during the war and they were incredibly reliable - 95% got through to their destinations with their messages."

The most famous homing pigeons of World War One was Cher Ami, who was awarded the French Croix de Guerre during the battle of Argonne in October 1918. Under heavy enemy fire, and despite being blinded in one eye, shot through the breast and having a leg dangling by a tendon, Cher Ami delivered a message from the front line to the US 77th Division HQ that saved 194 men of the "lost battalion".

The pigeon-posted billboard will be assembled in Wellington between now and the end of November 2007.

Meet the Fokkers October a Great Success

Tim Sullivan & Jerry Chisum

Meet the Fokkers month has been a great success.

Labour Weekend and the special presentation on Saturday evening, attracted good numbers of visitors, who were also treated to musical entertainment by Susan Scott and the Marlborough Sounds Barbershop Chorus.

Presenters Graham Orphan, Tim Sullivan and Jerry Chisum held the attention of the crowd, talking about the Red Baron’s Flying Circus, the development of the Fokker Triplane and what the aircraft is actually like to fly for the modern aviator.

Photo shows our very own 'Tim & Jerry' team of Fokker pilots.

Sponsor Allan Scott’s special ‘Flying Circus’ range of wines was on hand and a good many glasses enjoyed.If you would like to order any of the four wines available (Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir) we are working on an order system, but in the meantime, please contact Allan Scott Family Winemakers direct. Remember to ask for our special Flying Circus selection. I can recommend it!

An Evening with the Fokkers. Saturday 20 October

Allan Scott WinesSavour a glass of Allan Scott's special "Flying Circus" wine selection on arrival (adults only). Wine is also available for sale during the evening.

Tour the Knights of the Sky exhibition.

Enjoy an entertaining and informative presentation on flying the Fokker Triplanes THEN and NOW. Classic Wings editor/publisher Graham Orphan will set the scene with a little history and then Triplane pilots Tim Sullivan and Jerry Chisum will share some of the stories and personal experiences of flying these nimble little fighters. According to Manfred Von Richthofen, the Triplane "climbed like a monkey and manoeuvred like the devil".

Time : 4.00-6.30pm
Date: Saturday 20 October
Venue: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Cost: $25 ($10 for members). Tickets are limited.

October’s ‘Meet The Fokkers’ sponsored by Allan Scott Family Winemakers

All this month we are celebrating the return of four flyable Fokker Triplanes to the exhibition. The foyer has been decorated; used Triplane fabric is available for sale as souvenirs; other Fokker merchandise, such as models, hats and T-shirts are reduced 10% and we have a range of specially labelled wine available via Allan Scott Family Winemakers. Plus there is a special tour and presentation on Saturday 20 October, with guest speakers Graham Orphan, Tim Sullivan and Jerry Chisum.

Following the success of Classic Fighters air show, when seven Triplanes took to the air, the aircraft went into temporary storage, while a Bristol Fighter replaced them in the museum. Now, for the first time since the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre opened, we have a full complement of 21 display aircraft.

Official 2008 Calendar calendar

2008 CalendarThe Official AHC calendar for 2008 is now on sale. Entitled “TheFirst Warbirds” this calendar features stunning A3 sized photos taken by Gavin Conroy, of some of the flying WW1 aircraft from the collection, as well as several images of the Knights of the Sky exhibition. Priced at only $25 + p&p ($5 within NZ) this calendar would make a great gift. All proceeds go to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Check out more of Gavin's photography on his website Classic Aircraft Photography

Marlborough Warbirds / AHC Newsletter - July/Aug/Sept 2007 President's Report

We are indeed very fortunate to have as our base of activities, the wonderful, historic, Omaka airfield. The field is still largely a time capsule in terms of its appeal for older style aircraft as it offers multiple vectors and an all over grass surface that doesn't become unusable in wet weather (of the type we've had a fair share of just lately)! All of the activities at Omaka, the AHC, the airshows, private aircraft ownership, ag-flying, helicopter ops, gliding etc etc, all revolve around the fact that we are part of an Aero Club that has had a tradition of responsible, thoughtful, stewardship for its entire history. That's no mean feat for any organization.

It would be easy to take the Marlborough Aero Club for granted since it is so well established and professionally run and has always just 'been there'. Our own 'sub-group' if you like, is made up of a broad cross-section of people of whom perhaps two thirds are either currently flying or have held pilot's licenses in years past. For those not currently active in Aero Club matters, I'd urge you to ponder for a moment as to how lucky we are to have this well run organization that owns its own airfield, its own fleet of aeroplanes etc and is at the head of all activities at Omaka. It is one of the strongest Aero Clubs in New Zealand and the facilities available to enthusiasts here are the envy of the whole country (and beyond). If you are not already a member of the Marlborough Aero Club, you might want to think about joining and being a part of what I believe is the best Aero Club in the nation. Of course, if you have not learnt to fly and think that you might one day want to do so, remember the old adage that there's no time like the present. I intend to discuss the whole issue of flight training further in the next newsletter.

Before signing off, I would like to mention how pleased I am about the success of the expanded/combined Nanchang & Tiger Moth syndicate. Itis proving amazingly popular and is well worth supporting, although with just two of the 24 shares remaining, you may want to call right away to secure your place in this exciting opportunity. This will see many more people actively involved in flying vintage and warbird aircraft. It will see both aircraft overhead Omaka a lot more often. It will see access to both Nanchang AND Tiger Moth for the same price previously required to own a share in just one. It will see the hourly rate reduced and it will see the monthly fixed costs reduced. No wonder it is proving so desirable!

I'll no doubt see you over coffee at the AHC sometime!

Cheers for now,
Graham Orphan

Suzan Scott-Alexander - Tiger Flight.

One of our growing number of younger members, Suzan realised a lifelong ambition recently when she travelled to Auckland to follow the path of her great grandmother by taking to the skies attached to the top of a Tiger Moth. Both of Suzan's grandfathers were noted aviators. Her Mum's father was local identity Ron Alexander who used to operate ZK-BSN with the wing-stand on top, often occupied by his aging mother who was active in this role until her 80's, so Suzan is the fourth generation of the family to be involved in aviation and, apart from her own flight training at the Marlborough Aero Club, she decided she wanted to fly atop a Tiger Moth in the family tradition! Suzan's Dad is popular MAC member and former CFI Steve Scott.

Period Cloaks

Greg Olsen of Mapua has created some excellent men’s and women’s capes, which are now available for anyone to wear who would like to enter into the spirit of the age or who is just feeling the cold. The capes come in a range of sizes and are proving very popular with children.

Sponsors’ Board

Sponsors CocktailsThe Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre has benefited hugely by the support it has received from the local and wider community. Hundreds of individuals have given their own very precious time and many have donated cash or services. It would be Tony Smale MRDT, Jo Rainey NZTE, Brian Greenall Chairman near to impossible to name everyone but some of these contributions have been substantial and so by way of thanks, the Centre commissioned a sponsors’ board to be installed inside the foyer, above the exit doors. The companies and organizations featured have provided financial support of $20,000 or more.

A special thank you then to the following:
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Canterbury Community TrustBert Collett Redwood Trust, Mayor Alistair Sowman, Tom Mackle, Equus Industries, Wingnut Films, Weta Workshop, Classic Wings, Redwood Trust, Marlborough Lines, Dew & Co, Marlborough District Council

The new sponsor's board was unveiled at an evening function on 27 August. The photo to the upper right shows guests Tony Smale MRDT, Jo Rainey NZTE, Brian Greenall Trust Chair and below are Bert Collett Redwood Trust, Mayor Alistair Sowman and Tom Mackle enjoying the evening.

Education Programmes

Programs are underway in conjunction with John Orchard and the Education department to bring school groups through the facility, so that youngsters of various ages can experience the many areas of history and technology that the exhibits are able to tell. Questionaires have been produced to engage the young visitors in such a way as to ensure they don't leave without having absorbed some valuable lessons. By the end of this year, there should be no child in Marlborough who doesn't recognize the name of 'Grid' Caldwell as a great New Zealand hero.

Tiger/Nanchang Syndicate

A concept has been drawn up by Tony Clarry in consultation with several other members of the Nanchang syndicate and the Tiger syndicate to combine the two groups and there is some very good reasoning behind this. The idea involves expanding the new combined organization to operate the two aircraft, with an ownership base of 24 people. It would mean that each shareholder need own just one share but would have access to two different machines and at noticeably reduced costs, including just one monthly fixed-costs fee (a significant saving here for those with shares in both machines at present).

The aircraft concerned are Tiger Moth ZK-BER, in excellent condition with a recent annual, and Nanchang ZK-JQS, recently factory overhauled with many new items such as radio, TXP, Intercom, upholstery, seat belts etc along with overhauled engine, propeller, brakes, new tyres, tubes etc etc, so a pretty good package between the two machines.

Oral History Project

A project to record some of the early memories of Marlborough’s aviation history is underway. This is a joint undertaking by the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and the Marlborough Museum. In addition to providing a valuable archive of first hand accounts, this material will be edited into a documentary. If anyone has any early photographs or film footage of Omaka, Woodbourne or any Marlborough aviation-related subjects, we would be keen to hear from you.

Past Perfect

Museum collection management software, Past Perfect, has been purchased and installed on our computer. The purpose of this software is to record and track items donated to the museum.

The Marlborough District Council has undertaken a programme to assist local museums to use this software, so we have been able to piggyback on this initiative, achieving a lower price and several hours of free training.

We have quite a substantial collection of books and videos in the upstairs library and volunteers, Murray and Gill Winthrop have kindly offered to put it into some order. Every title will have to be recorded in some detail, along with who donated it, so they have quite a task ahead.

First Flights…

Sunday 6th May turned out to be a beautiful day for flying classic style taildraggers and proved the ideal occasion for the test flight of Larry Patterson's J-3 Kitten. On this occasion, Evan Belworthy and family visited from Cust for the day, in part so that Evan could test the J-3 and in part so that he could take the family through the Omaka AHC. Well it almost goes without saying that the little Cub look-alike performed flawlessly to the delight of Larry, Evan and all present. In fact it was such a nice day (and there have been many lately) that Omaka seemed to have older style machines overhead almost all day with the Marlborough Aero Club Super Cub airborne almost constantly, while other owners and machines active included Trevor Collins in the Helio Courier, Andrew Johns in the Pacer, Chris Richardson in Tiger 'BER, Graham and Zac in the Champ, Andy Fairhall in his lovely Aircamper and Yak-52 'ZAY took to the skies again after an extended stay, and then ventured north to her new home in New Plymouth. All in all a great day at the field and congrats to Larry on a job well done!

Congratulations also go to Owen Hughes and Pat Lyford on the successful return to airworthiness of their PA-18-90 Super Cub ZK-BTP. Pat would be the first to acknowledge that it was O.D. who put in the bulk of the work, day in day out on this machine to produce the exquisite little jewel we see in the air today. First flight was late on the afternoon of 23rd May and the aircraft flew as a Cub should, with no surprises there. Reg Taylor kept a close eye on the proceedings through the rebuild process, his extensive experience with the Cub family coming in very handy all along the way.

International Museum’s Day

International Museum's Day celebrations (May 18) provided an excuse to throw the spotlight onto the AHC for Blenheim residents. A half-price-special weekend allowed those who'd been holding off visiting the facility to take advantage of this special occasion. The upshot was that the two days saw some 650 people go through the facility, the Sunday's 450 representing a record attendance outside the Easter airshow period. Most interestingly, many locals said they wished they had come earlier, they would be returning, and that they were especially pleased to be able to have somewhere special to bring visitors from out of town or overseas when they come to Blenheim. This was a very positive result for all concerned and a 'great time was had by all'.

Marlborough Warbirds Breakfast BBQ /Flying Day, May 12

Between three and four dozen members attended this function at the AHC on Sunday May 12. The morning was designed to give us an excuse to get together for a social occasion as well as to exercise some of the members aircraft. WE also wanted an opportunity to get some of the AHC’s volunteer guides into the air in suitable aircraft as a way to say “Thank You” for the efforts put into the facility to date.

Children's Book Cub Awards

The Children's Book Cub Awards were hosted at the AHC on May 12 bringing 200 children and parents to the facility. We provided a brief tour of the facility, with photo opportunities outside by the Hurricane and a BBQ was in full swing for the families. It became clear that everyone wanted to come back after having too small a taste of the AHC. Some have already returned for a longer look.

Hurricane In Residence

Sunday 6th May saw the Hurricane finally go on display on the grass terrace outside the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre after Mike, Pat, Graham and Dayna snatched the opportunity to get the aircraft moved before the members' BBQ breakfast set for the following weekend. The aeroplane has drawn much attention and many compliments since being placed on display, the best comments coming from our resident Spitfire/Hurricane/Defiant pilot Bunty Bunt who is just delighted to have the Hurricane displayed where everyone can see it by the AHC café. Bunty, like most RAF fighter pilots of the era, was first a Tiger Moth pilot and during the BBQ breakfast he found himself once again enjoying the fresh air and a view provided by the Tiger's open cockpit as he and Chris Richards savoured the Marlborough scenery from resident syndicate Tiger ZK-BER.

Easter Exhibits Added

Over the past few weeks, several new and significant exhibits have been added to the Knights of the Sky exhibition.

The first addition has the distinction of being the only Caproni Ca 22 aircraft remaining in the world. This machine can be described as a virtual time-capsule, as it has spent most of the past 85 years in storage with the Caproni Museum in Italy. Click for more details

Next is an enthralling collection of artefacts and personal items belonging to some of the most famous aviators on both sides of the conflict during the First World War. This includes personal items of such famous aces as Eddie Rickenbacker, René Fonk, Ernst Udet and Max Immelman amongst others. Click for more details

Finally, complementing the von Richthofen (crashed Fokker Triplane) diorama scene is a display of the actual fabric cross, cut from the starboard side of his famous red Triplane. With it are other items salvaged from the aircraft and his own monogrammed handkerchief along with many other objects belonging to the Richthofen family. Click for more details

Best Museum In The World?

Sydney Morning Herald travel writer Bruce Elder has recently visited the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and has written in his online blog:
"The best Museum in the World? I am not exaggerating."

Opening Photos

Here are several photographs from the official opening on December the 8th:

Exhibition Opening: Etrich Taube and Airco DH-2
The Etrich Taube and Airco DH-2. These examples of early (First World War) aircraft fascinate the first visitors
through the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Knights of the Sky Opening: Albatros B.II
Official guests look on as the observer in the Albatros B.II prepares to drop a bomb over the side of the aircraft as it flies over the Allied lines.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Opening: Fokker Eindecker+ Airco DH-2  Dogfight
A Fokker Eindecker attacks the Airco DH-2 from the rear, using the newly developed synchronisation gear enabling the machine gun to fire between the propellor blades.

Lift-off December 8th 2006

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was officially opened in Marlborough today; unveiling a unique visitor attraction and significant asset for the region.

Entitled “Knights of the Sky”, the opening exhibition includes one of the world's largest private collections of rare WW1 aircraft that are presented in dramatic tableaux to spectacular effect.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is the product of more than a decade of collaborative activity amongst Marlborough aviation enthusiasts. They have been propelled by a common vision: that the region's nucleus of aircraft enthusiasts, rare aeroplanes, specialist aviation skills, coupled with the historical significance of the Omaka Aerodrome - could become the foundation for a 'flying heritage centre' which would be the focal point for a broad spectrum of aviation activity bringing economic benefit to the region.

Their vision received strong support from the Marlborough District Council and Marlborough Regional Development Trust, both of whom recognised aviation as a key driver in Marlborough's economy and successfully applied to NZ Trade and Enterprise for a Major Regional Initiative grant to build Stage One of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Stage One, which opened today, occupies some 3,000 sqm of purpose-built display area and accommodates a collection of dramatically-staged static displays of original and replica aircraft along with flyable aeroplanes from the WW1 era. The collection is managed by the 14-18 Aviation Heritage Trust, which is chaired by film director Peter Jackson, and has been brought to life in a series of theatrical dioramas constructed with the artistic talent and technical expertise of some of New Zealand's most talented storytellers and special effects wizards.

Speaking at the launch event Mr Brian Greenall, Chairman of the New Zealand Aviation Heritage Trust, which operates the aviation heritage centre, said the Omaka attraction aims to be both educational and entertaining for all ages, while acting as catalyst to attract aviation business and investment to the Marlborough region.

As the centerpiece of the region's aviation cluster, the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre forms the nucleus for a range of aviation-related businesses set to grow in the adjacent

Aviation Business Park. These include aircraft restoration/painting/upholstery, vintage/warbird experience flights - even whole aircraft manufacture. Site preparation is currently underway for the establishment of the first five new hangars in the Aviation Business Park with construction due to commence before the end of the year.

Marlborough's tourism industry will also be a key benefactor. The rarity of the aircraft and world-class standard of creativity and craftsmanship of the Stage One exhibition will not only draw aviation enthusiasts from around the globe but will also extend the range of Marlborough's entertainment options for visitors of all ages and interests.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre will be open 7 days per week from 10am - 4pm and is located alongside the Omaka Aerodrome, approximately 5kms from the centre of Blenheim.

For further information, please contact:
Jane Orphan
Chief Executive, Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
03 5791305
027 6777621

Etrich Taube
The Etrich Taube on display at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. This faithful reproduction of the Taube, which was first flown in 1910, was built in Germany and made a number of flying appearances at air shows in Europe prior to being shipped to New Zealand in late 2005.

Marlborough Flying High as Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre opens

8 December 2006

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) chairman Phil Lough today congratulated Marlborough on its vision as he opened the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre near Blenheim. NZTE in 2004 provided $2 million in Major Regional Initiative funding to get the project started and a big effort since by the region has resulted in today's official opening of the centre.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre provides a facility for showcasing and maintaining original and replica historic aircraft. Incorporating flying displays, it is expected to promote tourism in the region by educating people about aviation and also act as a focus for the development of the aviation sector.

Speaking at today's opening, Mr Lough said the people of Marlborough had displayed some innovative thinking and energy to develop the project. “The original concept of having an aircraft collection to encourage travelers to stop in Marlborough has developed into this internationally-significant centre that will leverage aviation restoration activity, boost tourism and events, and spawn new aviation business,” Mr Lough said.

He added the centre would be a catalyst for the region to position itself as an international centre for aviation. Preparations for an aviation business park alongside the heritage centre are now underway, a move that will help to attract more aviation businesses to the region.

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre was the second Marlborough project to receive Major Regional Initiative funding. The first, a Wine Research Centre, was opened in March 2004.

NZTE's Major Regional Initiative funding is a component of its Regional Partnerships Programme, which helps regions to develop and activate sustainable economic growth strategies.

For more information, please contact:
Jo Rainey, NZTE Regional Economic Development Adviser, Nelson
03 546 7285
027 274 9972

Lift-off is Coming!

Saturday December 9th promises to be a huge day for aviation enthusiasts, WW1 buffs and anyone intrigued by aeroplanes and flying aces. It's the long-awaited opening of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre coupled with Marlborough's annual Harcourts Marlborough Christmas Wings flying display & concert.

The opening exhibition at Omaka is Knights of the Sky - one of the world's largest private collections of WW1 aircraft and rare memorabilia, brought to life in a multi-sensory experience designed to captivate and entertain all ages.

Open to the public from 10:00AM - 4:00PM, followed by the Harcourts Marlborough Christmas Wings flying display & concert which commences at 4.30PM.

Rare Albatros B.II in the Omaka collection

Although most of the aircraft on display in the Knights of the Sky exhibition opening at Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre have been kept under wraps until opening day on December 9th, it has been revealed that one aircraft included in the exhibition will be an example of the attractive Albatros B.II.

The B.II was an unarmed German two-seat reconnaissance biplane designed by Ernst Heinkel. First flying in 1914, large numbers of the B.II were built and although it was relegated from front-line service in 1915 following the introduction of the armed C-type two-seaters, the B.II remained in service as a trainer until 1918.

Just two original Albatross B.II aircraft have survived. The aircraft on display at the AHC was completed in Germany during 2000 and is the only representative example of the type to have flown since the 1920's. Along with a number of other aircraft on display, it is a type not previously seen 'downunder'.

Albatros Biplane
The Albatros B.II, as seen shortly before being moved into the Knights of the Sky exhibition at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.