Warbirds Over Wanaka 2024 Set to Soar

Final low-level display by crowd favourite P-51D and pilot combo, USAF F-16 and C-17 demo teams confirmed

Graham Bethell's P-51D Mustang ZK-TAF performing at Wanaka. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka]
Graham Bethell's P-51D Mustang ZK-TAF performing at Wanaka. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka]
United Fuel Cells


PRESS RELEASE

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow has announced that long-time Warbirds Over Wanaka display pilot Graham Bethell will be performing his final ever low-level aerobatic display in his P-51D Mustang ZK-TAF this Easter. Graham has been a fantastic supporter of our airshow in the past and for 2024 he has donated a 20-minute ride for us to use as a fund raiser as we continue to recover from losing two straight airshows. This ride will be auctioned off by way of a silent auction at the airshow. Call into our information kiosk in our main merchandise tent any time from Friday morning to 3pm on the Sunday and lodge your bid: you could be flying high in a WWII fighter aircraft the very next day.

Graham Bethell waves to the Wanaka crowd from his P-51D Mustang ZK-TAF. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka]
Graham Bethell waves to the Wanaka crowd from his P-51D Mustang ZK-TAF. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka]

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow has also confirmed the United States Air Force is supporting the event this Easter with both the F-16 fighter jet and C-17 demonstration teams heading down under. The F-16 Fighting Falcon team is based at Misawa in Japan with the jets being escorted to New Zealand by a KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft which will provide air-to-air refuelling. Meanwhile the C-17 Globemaster III team is coming from their base in Hawaii.

The USAF's F-16 will once again thunder through the Wanaka skies this Easter. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka}
The USAF’s F-16 will once again thunder through the Wanaka skies this Easter. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka]

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager Ed Taylor said the team was thrilled to have these aircraft confirmed. “The United States Air Force has been a major supporter of our airshow over the years. Their teams always put on top displays and their personnel on the ground are always great ambassadors for their country.”

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

The USAF will send a C-17 Globemaster III from Hawaii to display at Warbirds Over Wanaka 2024. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka]
The USAF will send a C-17 Globemaster III from Hawaii to display at Warbirds Over Wanaka 2024. [Photo via Warbirds Over Wanaka]

Not so small and fast but equally impressive is the huge C-17 Globemaster III which is set to fill the sky above Wanaka during the airshow. The American participation backs up an impressive line-up of modern military aircraft already confirmed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). Highlights include the New Zealand airshow debut for the RNZAF’s new Boeing P-8K Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft which has replaced the Lockheed P-3K Orion, and what’s expected to be an emotional farewell to the Lockheed C-130H Hercules which is performing its last major airshow display before being retired.

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

Ticket Sales A reminder that tickets are selling like hotcakes for the airshow. Our top-of-the-line Titanium Pass tickets sold out in the first few days of going on sale. A couple of other ticket reminders:
  • The only remaining grandstand seats available are Silver Friday passes
  • All children up to the age of 16 are FREE on Friday
  • There are heaps of General Admission tickets still available – both 3-day and individual day passes
  • To book click here:  https://premier.ticketek.co.nz/shows/show.aspx?sh=WARBIRDS24
Bike to the airshow! Wanaka Airport is located 10 kms from the Wanaka CBD.  There is a great trail ride which you can use to get to the airport.  When you get to the airshow you will be able to bring your bike right into the airfield to park it in a specially designated bike park. If you are a visitor to town and wish to hire a bike to get you out and back to the airshow, or just to check out the Wanaka trails when you’re not at the airshow, we recommend checking out the rental range at Bike It Now. A reminder to those wanting to fly private aircraft into the airshow for one or multiple days you will need to book a parking space.  We have limited aircraft parking this year.  To guarantee your park book via our website.
Warbirds Over Wanaka will continue to accept cash and cards for all purchases at the airshow. However, we will no longer have cash out facilities at the event. This means no ATMs at the airshow next Easter. So if you want to use cash you will need to bring it yourself. If you don’t want to use cash then all purchases will be able to be made using cards. We urge our international visitors to look at getting an international debit card, for example a Wise card, which you can load up with NZ currency before getting to the airshow. We have a range of Warbirds Over Wanaka merchandise for sale in our online shop. Remember there is a minimum order of NZ$40.
If you would like to help the Warbirds Over Wanaka recover from our significant losses after cancellation of the 2020 and 2022 airshows, we would be very grateful for your donation. Please donate $50 here: https://warbirds-over-wanaka.myshopify.com/products/donation. Please donate $100 here: https://warbirds-over-wanaka.myshopify.com/products/donation-100. If you have already donated we thank you for your support.

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