Friday, April 04, 2014

Three warbirds in formation on Anzac Day

Three warbirds from the Biggin Hill collection at the Ohakea Air Force Base will fly past in formation during this year's Anzac Day commemorations.

The aircraft will fly past eight Manawatu/Whanganui locations this year, with three off duty air force pilots taking command of the cockpits.

Marton businessman and aircraft enthusiast Brendon Deere, who owns the Biggin Hill collection, said warbird flypasts had been part of Anzac Day commemorations for the past six years.

"This time we are going to do something a little different as all three warbirds . . . will fly in formation across Palmerston North, Feilding, Marton and Whanganui.

"This will be only the second time all three aircraft have operated together."

The first time was at last year's Marton Christmas parade.

The aircraft and the pilots on the day will be Squadron Leader Sean Perrett in the Spitfire PV270, Squadron Leader Jim Rankin in the TBM Avenger and Squadron Leader Oliver Bint in Harvard NZ1037.

The special passenger on board the Avenger 18 will be air force veteran Phil Lightband, of Whanganui, who flew Kittyhawks and Corsairs on the Pacific front.

Deere said the three aircraft represented different aspects of New Zealand's military aviation involvement in World War II.

"The Spitfire is forever associated with the Kiwi pilots who operated in RAF squadrons in the northern hemisphere whilst the TBM Avenger represents those who were involved in the Pacific campaign.

"The Harvard is synonymous with the vast training and home front effort made back in New Zealand and other Empire locations."

This year's commemorations are made even more significant as it is the anniversary of two key events in military history - the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

Deere said the aircraft would be undertaking some air-to-air photography between Whanganui and Ohakea.

The aircraft will take off and form over Ohakea at 10.52am.

Other timings are:

Palmerston North City - 11am

Feilding - 11.06am

Halcombe - 11.11am

Marton - 11.16am

Aramoho Cemetery - 11.26am

Whanganui City - 11.30am

Whanganui Airport - 11.33am

Ohakea - 11.45am (approximately)

The flypasts will be subject to weather and the aircraft returning from the Warbirds over Wanaka event in time. A backup weather day has been set for April 26 with the same timings.