The Warbirds Over Wanaka Flying Scholarships were launched in 2016 as a way to help passionate warbird pilots attain more skills and experience to ensure the future of airshows such as Warbirds Over Wanaka.
This year, one of the two awards has been won by a Wanaka-born pilot for the first time. Daniel Pezaro first fell in love with aviation and historic aircraft when he attended Wanaka airshows as a young boy. Dan joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2003 and served for 15 years before his resignation in September this year to join Air New Zealand. Dan was a member of the Black Falcons aerobatic display team which performed at Wanaka earlier this year.
Dan is ‘absolutely thrilled’ to be awarded one of the 2018 scholarships. “I hope to use the funds to improve my skills and experience towards the future goal of displaying warbird aircraft at Wanaka. I want to play a part in preserving these amazing pieces of history and hopefully to inspire others to follow aviation as a career in the same way I was when I saw them as a child growing up in Wanaka,” says Dan.
Dan will receive one of two $5,000 Flying Scholarships announced by the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust. The second Scholarship has been awarded to Masterton-based pilot Bevan Dewes who is also thrilled to get the award: “Flying warbirds has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Being accepted for this scholarship will enable me to take the next leap in my flying career. I am hoping to put the scholarship money towards gaining experience in formation aerobatics. This will help me become a more skilled pilot for display flying.” Bevan is no stranger to flying at Wanaka airshows, displaying his Chipmunk at the Easter 2018 event as part of the classic aircraft flypast.
Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager Ed Taylor says after three years selecting the winners for the Scholarships has not got any easier. “There were a number of outstanding candidates again this year. While it’s disappointing for many who missed out I guess it’s a good problem to have and bodes well for the future.”