Warbirds Over Wanaka has confirmed that a Polikarpov I-16 will return to Wanaka next Easter. The plan was for the aircraft to be one of the stars of the 30th Anniversary of the world-renowned event in 2018. However, mechanical issues just two weeks out from the final possible shipping date meant the plan had to be abandoned.
Not deterred, airshow organisers have continued talking with the German owner of the aircraft and it is now in a shipping container bound for New Zealand. When the aircraft arrives it will be reassembled at Wanaka Airport by Callum Smith and his team of engineers at Twenty24 Ltd ready for former World Aerobatic champion Jurgis Kairys from Lithuania to take the controls at the show.
The aircraft is one of the nine Polikarpovs restored by airshow founder Sir Tim Wallis back in the 1990s. Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, says there were a lot of very disappointed fans in 2018 who had been looking forward to seeing one of the Polikarpovs again. “We never gave up hope and with the goodwill of the aircraft owner and the logistical talents of sponsors Hamburg Sud and Mainfreight we have made it happen. It is a pretty big deal for Wanaka and for our founder and patron Sir Tim Wallis to have this stubby, noisy little aircraft return,” says Ed.
The aircraft coming to Wanaka was initially sold to German businessman and warbird collector Thomas Julch. The aircraft was later sold to Wolfgang Frey but is still housed in Mr Julch’s hangar at Lachen-Speyerdorf airport in Germany.
Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow is being held at Wanaka Airport, New Zealand, on April 10-12 , 2020. For more information and tickets go to www.warbirdsoverwanaka.com