“Now one of the “big four” airshow destinations in New Zealand”
Classics of the Sky is held biennially at Tauranga City Airport. The Sport Aircraft Association New Zealand (SAA) have held their annual Sport Avex weekend in Tauranga biennially since 2004. Following the 2008 Sport Avex weekend, the SAA joined forces with Tauranga City’s aviation museum, Classic Flyers NZ, to run a much larger airshow with international interest. The first large airshow was held in summer 2010 and alternates year about as the North Island summer airshow with Wings over Wairarapa.
So what makes “Classics of the Sky” different to the other airshows?
MuseumIt is known for the large visiting sport aircraft component of the air and static displays.
SAA President Bill Sisley is a Co-Director of the airshow and explained that sport aircraft are owned by people who “dream of flying their own aircraft, and to fulfill their dreams they build their own and fly it”.
Classic Flyers was the brainchild of a group of local aviation enthusiasts, including CEO and the other airshow Co-Director, Andrew Gormlie. Andrew has a Warbirds background, and is part of several classic aircraft groups including that of a T-6 Harvard. From early beginnings ten years ago, with one large museum hangar and a function centre complex on the edge of Tauranga City Airport, Classic Flyers now has three museum hangars and is one of the highlights on the Bay of Plenty tourism scene.
“Tauranga City is one of “the places to be” over summer in New Zealand.”
With internationally renowned Mount Maunganui beaches 5 minutes’ drive from Classic Flyers, making the airshow easily accessible to locals and tourists. Situated within the city boundaries the airshow is easy to find with Classic Flyers a short stroll from Tauranga City’s main arterial routes. The airport covers 225 hectares with plenty of room available for airshow parking on site.
Organisers have successfully run full weekend airshows since the first one in 2010 however, with the plethora of events available to the public in Tauranga City during summer, which add to the reasons that make it a great place to visit, they felt it was time to try something new and are planning a revised format for 2016.
There will now be two “afternoon airshows”, one in summer and one in autumn. Described as “family picnic type events”, the
airshows are scheduled for mid-afternoon to evening activity with static and flying aviation displays, food stalls and children’s entertainment all along the same format as the larger weekend events. Air displays will start in the late afternoon and continue until twilight.
The atmosphere intended is to provide a great value for money afternoon out for a whole family, enabling people to sit back and watch some superb entertainment, while either bringing a picnic dinner or purchasing one from the many available options while also sampling some of the Bay of Plenty’s own beverages.
The dates for 2016 are Saturday January 23rd along with Saturday March 19th. Each airshow will have a specific aviation theme. There will be a mix of classic aircraft, sports aircraft, military aircraft and gliders, along with local NZ Police teams and other displays. Each airshow will have an associated event or special ground based attraction – in January this will include the Mount Truck Show.
The Mount Truck Show organisers were looking for a venue with more space for more trucks at the same time as the Classics of the Sky organisers were looking for an event to combine with the airshow, so the merging of intentions seemed appropriate and plans are well under way to provide the dual event.