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Large contingent of overseas participants for Warbirds Over Wanaka

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A large contingent of overseas participants is expected to add a strong international flavour to the Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow this Easter.

Guest performers, exhibitors and media will soon be travelling from Poland, France, the United States, Lithuania, Switzerland and beyond to take part in the event which begins in just over three weeks.

Three American jet pilots with both military and civilian backgrounds, will take part in the first-ever jet racing event, the #GigatownWanaka Jets. They will compete against a Kiwi team in high-speed dashes around a marked course visible from Wanaka Airport. The three Americans, all experienced Reno air race pilots, plan to stay on to go fishing from their base in Wanaka after the event, airshow manager Mandy Deans said.

Ms Deans said Lithuanian aerobatic champion Jurgis Kairys had already made one trip to Auckland to practise for the event, due to the Lithuanian winter not being conducive to aerobatic practise. Kairys, who describes himself as "61 years old and full of power", would be arriving in Wanaka, along with most of the other international visitors, in two weeks time.

Five or six Australian companies were bringing specialist aviation equipment and aircraft for the trade and aircraft market stands and that country’s Air Force were bringing two Hawk 127 fighters to display in the airshow.

A contingent of French military authorities will also attend the show. French pilots and crew will be displaying a CASA transport and surveillance aircraft throughout the three day event.

Thirteen international media had pre-registered for the airshow including Skynews from Switzerland and photojournalists from Germany, France, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The majority of the international visitors were being hosted in accommodation in Wanaka.

Ms Deans said the presence of so many aircraft and acts from overseas were likely to have influenced ticket sales which have been consistently up on previous events, since they went on sale over 12 months ago. Over one hundred extra seats had been added to the Gold Pass stand to meet the demand, she said.

"We are anticipating a big crowd but preparations are well in hand, work begins constructing the stands on April 4 and we are looking forward to another successful Airshow."

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