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New Schools Initiative

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A strong new focus on educating young people about aviation and its history in New Zealand has prompted the organizers of the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow to offer free passes to all Upper Clutha school children to enter the show on Friday, April 2.

Reaction from school principals to the move had been very positive, airshow event manager Mandy Deans, said. "Principals and parents spoken to have been delighted with the news so we are hoping for a good turnout of young people. There will be flying schools and an RNZAF educational tent as well as a strong presence by uniformed Air Training Corp cadets who are all aged between 13 and 18 years."

Principal of Makarora Primary School, Lynley Ward, said it was a good opportunity for children to be involved in the wider community and in something as iconic as Warbirds Over Wanaka.

Ms Deans believed there was growing interest in New Zealand's aviation and military history among young people and events like the airshow provided a very rare opportunity for them to experience first-hand the sounds, smells and sights of the aircraft and military in the wars that shaped our history.

With Warbirds low-flying overhead, explosions sounding, and battle re-enactments with tanks, jeeps, and uniformed soldiers in full swing on the ground, the past would be literally brought to life in front of their eyes.

Over 30 WWII veterans are being hosted at the show and it was expected some might be able share their stories with the public. "We are honored to be hosting the veterans and mindful that they will not always be here."

Other areas of specific interest will be the Bundaberg Classic Cockpit display where students could sit in fighter aircraft cockpits that would have been flown by young men not much older than themselves.

"It is a great hands-on experience and some of those WWII pilots would have been the same age as high school students - possibly overstating their age to get into the air force at only 17 years old."

There would be the opportunity to go inside a large military aircraft, the C-130 Hercules, and to enjoy displays of classic cars from the war era, as well as modern jets, helicopters and plenty of other children's entertainment.

The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust, formed in 2006, had developed a vision for the organization to inspire, entertain and educate generations, and further initiatives were planned to continue this theme in the future, Ms Deans said.

The free passes were available for all Upper Clutha primary and secondary pupils of which there were approximately 1340. It was hoped that families would get groups together to attend on what is traditionally the 'practice day' for the scheduled airshow.

Warbirds Over Wanaka takes place at Wanaka Airport during Easter on April 2, 3 and 4, 2010.

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