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French flavour to popular airshow

3 February 2005

French flavour to popular airshow

While the rest of New Zealand hunts for eggs under the bushes, Marlborough will be celebrating Easter around the Eiffel Tower and the Arc d’ Triomphe

French is the flavour at this year’s popular Classic Fighters Marlborough airshow, as a world-beating ten WW1 fighter planes battle it out over the vineyards Easter weekend.

The theme couldn’t be more fitting for the location of the show, at historic Omaka Aerodrome. Not only is the grass airfield one of the oldest in New Zealand, it is surrounded on three sides by Marlborough’s famous vineyards – apart from the aircraft the most authentic touch organisers could have hoped for.

Organising committee member Allan Udy said the ground theatre element of the show, which along with the rare WW1 fighters has shot the young airshow to the top of the popularity stakes, will be better than ever this year.

In 2003, when the second airshow was held, over 100 authentically dressed soldiers and medical personnel added to the spectacle along with original and replica tanks, military vehicles, weapons and tents.

The ground theatre added authenticity and drama to both the WW1 and WW2 dog fighting scenarios and cemented the airshow not only as a weekend not to be missed, but unique in the world.

Mr Udy said more firsts were planned this year. These include a concave display line for better viewing and large outdoor television screens. Once again families and children will be well catered for with entertainment and plenty of Marlbrough food and wine.

The event will be the first time the German Pfalz D-III will have been seen in the air in New Zealand and the first airshow for the delightful de Havilland DH-2 ‘pusher’ plane.

The construction team that whipped up a 12m pyramid and full sized Stuka bomber for the Egyptian-themed 2003 event were planning more magic this year. Among the treats will be the Arc d’Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.

However some poetic license would be taken, with other parts of the field resembling a peaceful French village, Mr Udy said.

Organisers of the show, which was started in 2001 to raise money for an aviation heritage centre, were delighted that the district was turning the event into a weekend festival.

A French-themed market day will be held in Blenheim the day before the show, while Hell’s Kitchen-winning chef Chris Fortune will be preparing a four-course feast in the show’s gold pass marquee on Saturday night. This event will include a dusk aerobatics display and a hot air balloon ‘night glow’ spectacular.

The show will be held on Easter Friday (trade and practice day), Saturday and Sunday – March 25 – 27. All details can be found on the airshow’s comprehensive website: www.classicfighters.co.nz


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