Report and photos by Marco Keller, New Zealand
The Royal New Zealand Air Force held it’s celebratory 80th Anniversary Air Tattoo at Ohakea Air Base on the 25th and 26th February 2017. With a crowd of around 31,000 attending from around New Zealand from overseas over the 2 days, it was a great opportunity to see the Royal New Zealand Air Force on show along with some great military flying not always seen.
The airshow was predominately focused on current operational military aircraft. Whilst there were a couple of older warbirds around, it was no where near the extent that Wanaka or Omaka display them. The RNZAF certainly made sure that it was a spectacle for all those who made it. There was a mass start of all current aircraft – A109, NH-90, SH-2G, T6C-II, B200, P3K, C130, B757 – and it was pulled off magnificently. Each of those conducted flying displays individually and as a group – except the B200.
Not only was every aircraft fleet on display from the RNZAF, but aircraft from some of it’s closest allies. The Australians, Americans, Canadians, British, Japanese, Singaporeans and the French were all present at Ohakea over the weekend.
Since the retirement of the RNZAF A-4 Skyhawk fleet in 2001, fast jets are a rarity within New Zealand, so the prospect of seeing the F-16’s from the USAF and the F/A-18’s from the RAAF put on thrilling performances certainly made the crowd enjoy them even more so. Credit must also be given to the pilots who pulled off the stunning displays. Singapore sent their F-15’s down as well, but they did not conduct aerial displays.
Alongside the jets were support aircraft, a KC135 (USAF), C17 (USAF and RAAF), KC-767 (JASDF), C130 (RSAF and RCAF), A400M (RAF), CASA-235 (France).
Alongside the current inventory, an Avenger, Harvard and Spitfire also performed aerial displays.
Despite the size of the crowd was far from the size that was expected – those that did turn up were treated to spectacular flying displays coupled with in depth ground displays with almost every facet of the RNZAF on display in some form or another
The 80th anniversary celebrating the formation of the Royal New Zealand Air Force was from feedback, seen by many as a superbly organised event and we hope there are more of these airshows in the future of this level and with the diversity of attractions on show.