Yakovlev Yak-3 ‘Steadfast’ has been bought by Blenheim-based owners, Mark O’Sullivan and Ronan Harvey. It arrived from Australia in September and is currently being readied for Wanaka.
In the early 2000’s a decision was made to build brand new Yak-3s based on the original prototype, this time fitted with powerful Pratt and Whitney R-2000 radial engines. The new aircraft were built in Romania and were snapped up by eager warbird aircraft owners around the world.
‘Steadfast’ was exported to the United States in the mid-2000s, embarking on an illustrious career at the famous Reno Air Races. During that time the aircraft picked up nine world speed and climbing records, including reaching 655km/h over a 3km course in Utah. In 2013 the aircraft moved to Australia where it has been operating until this latest move across the Tasman.
“This aircraft has it all with her beautiful lines betraying what can be brutal performance. The addition of a great smoke system means this aircraft will be something of a show- stopper at Wanaka,” says Mark.
‘Steadfast’ will be one of two Yak-3s performing at Wanaka. Graeme Frew’s Russian fighter ‘Full Noise 35’ has been a regular at Wanaka since 2012 and is one of several warbirds available for joy rides over the Easter weekend.
Visitors will also be able to see a P-40 Kittyhawk firing its six .50 calibre machine guns. Auckland-based pilot Frank Parker is returning to Wanaka to fly the P-40. Frank will be firing the guns as part of an aerial display but there will also be a test firing of the guns on the ground on the Friday of the show. Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, says Wanaka is the only Airshow in the world where you can see a P-40 firing its guns.
“We are working up a great scenario for the Saturday and Sunday which will involve the P-40 hunting and shooting down a couple of enemy aircraft. But before that on the Friday we will be having a special one-off ‘firing of the guns’ on the ground to allow fans to get up close and personal for the experience of a lifetime.”
“The P-40 guns are something of an only-at-Wanaka thing. They were first used back in 2008 and then in 2012 and 2016. It’s great to have them back for 2020. We know they’re very popular especially with our international visitors who just can’t get enough of them,” says Ed.
More information about the Airshow, joyrides and how to book tickets can be found on the WOW website www.warbirdsoverwanaka.com
Yak-3 image by GAVIN CONROY
P-40 image by PHILIP MAKANNA