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Thunderbirds are go!

Yaks flying in formation during the 2019 Wings Over Wairarapa air festival. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Wairarapa’s biggest event has lift-off with Wings Over Wairarapa air festival dates set for February 26-28 next year.

“It’s great, we’re excited and we’re going to go for it,” general manager Jenny Gasson said.

Gasson said planning was under way before covid-19 but with uncertainty surrounding the status of the country’s borders, the popular air show is being tweaked to feature just New Zealand-based aircraft.

“There are quite a few things in New Zealand that people haven’t seen – there are surprises to come. We are very, very lucky we can do so much without international pilots and planes and hold an incredible show.”

WOW Community Trust chairman Bob Francis said, Wings was used to facing difficulty, with weather issues last year an example, but uncertainty around covid-19 threw up some new challenges.

“The team is able to be flexible and has looked at all the ways to produce an outstanding show which benefits the region by bringing visitors to Wairarapa,” Francis said.

The air show is held every two years at Masterton’s Hood Aerodrome. Recent Wings festivals have attracted up to 25,000 people to the region.

The Wings event won the Supreme Award at the 2019 Wairarapa Awards hosted by Business Wairarapa.

In the past, the event has featured a replica of Canterbury farmer and inventor Richard Pearse’s mono-plane which some suggest flew before the Wright Brothers’ in 1903, World War I and II aircraft, and more recently the new Royal New Zealand Air Force display team.

Wings is in discussion with the RNZAF about what aircraft could be available for the show.

If the New Zealand border opens later this year, the organisers would look to what international aircraft could attend.

The event also includes an aviation and education programme, introduced in 2019 when more than 4500 Wairarapa children went to the airfield to learn about potential aviation careers.

“This is an industry that is doing it tough at the moment but will bounce back in the future and will need to be planning ahead for people to begin aviation careers,” Gasson said.

Tickets for Wings go on sale in July.

  • Visit: wings.org.nz or facebook/wingsoverwairarapa for more information.

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