What Warbirds is all about
Almost from the beginning of the Aviation Age aircraft have been flying the skies in the service of their countries, performing a huge number of roles in a myriad of situations all over the world, both during peace and in time of war. Service aircraft that readily come to mind are the images of First World War Camels and Fokkers, the Battle of Britain Spitfires and Messerschmitts, Lancaster, Heinkel and B-17 bombers, Mustangs, Zeros – the list goes on! Later types would include Vampires, Migs, Canberras, Skyhawks and many, many more. In the history of military flight, these ‘glamour’ aircraft represent the front line of a much deeper and broader tradition of service, one that encompasses literally hundreds of types of training, transport and reconnaissance aircraft which have performed, and continue to perform, their vital duties.
In New Zealand, as in many countries the world over, service aircraft have been the introduction to flying and aviation for thousands of young men (and some women), particularly in times of war. Many such pilots have gone on to establish careers in civilian flying long after their military service so, in many ways, these aircraft form the very backbone of our country’s aviation history.
The New Zealand Warbirds Association does not aim to glorify war at all, but rather, to see some of these grand old military aircraft preserved in flying condition for the enjoyment of all. Who can resist the throb of a Harvard or the sheer romance of a Tiger Moth, the roar of a Mustang or the rush of a jet?
What the organisation does
The New Zealand Warbirds Association is an umbrella body dedicated to the restoration, preservation and operation of service aircraft in full flying condition. Nationwide, we are a vitally alive family of involved participants who provide the wide range of skills and support necessary to maintain and operate these classic aircraft.
Warbirds was originally conceived in 1978 to preserve ex-RNZAF service aircraft only but this has been expanded by the successful introduction of service aircraft from all over the world including Russian, German and Chinese types. British and American aircraft never seen in service here also figure prominently. Everything from biplanes to jet fighters!
The development of a Visitor Centre as part of the main hangar at Ardmore provides an educational resource unrivalled in the warbird sphere. Not only does it house former RNZAF aircraft – an A4K Skyhawk (on loan from the Air Force Museum) and an Aermacchi trainer- but also has an aviation library complex as well as models and comprehensive squadron history banners.
The Visitor Centre is home to our Warbirds shop where a wide range of clothing and other merchandise allows you – and your family and friends- to identify with the desire to ‘keep ‘em flying’!
Restoring, preserving and flying service aircraft
As a Warbirds member you will have the opportunity to be involved with the restoration and running of these classic aircraft at a level that is unattainable by any other means. Put quite simply, if you have an interest in historic flight, Warbirds is for you. You can become involved as much or as little as you like, from an interested weekender to full syndicate member with a share in an aircraft.
Our members are people from every walk of life who have an interest in aviation and get pleasure from being associated with Warbirds aircraft. Some of our members have had prior involvement with the military and the aviation industry, as you would expect, but for many others Warbirds is the culmination of a lifelong interest and ambition which otherwise they would not have realised.
Visitor Center Open Hours: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday 10.30am – 3pm
Except public holidays