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Wings Organisers’ Working Hard To Bring B-52 To Air Festival

Organisers of Wings over Wairarapa Air Festival 2021 have put plans in motion to bring the United States Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress to this month’s event. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexa Ann Henderson.

Organisers’ of Wings over Wairarapa Air Festival 2021 have put plans in motion to bring the United States Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress to this month’s event.

In addition to having an extravaganza of aerial action lined up over three days from February 26th – 28th, the air festival is set to showcase high-end readiness, which is a key line of effort for all of the military commands involved, including the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the U.S. Pacific Air Forces and Air Force Global Strike Command.

“We are working very hard to bring the B-52 to this month’s Wings Over Wairarapa air festival,” says Wings Over Wairarapa Board Chair Bob Francis. “I would like to say thank you to the United States Embassy for their incredible support in helping us make this dream a reality.

“We acknowledge we are operating in a very dynamic environment with the Covid-19 global pandemic and its effects potentially coming into play however, we are hopeful that having the B-52 make a rare appearance in our skies will provide an additional ‘wow’ factor to an already amazing line-up of aircraft we have planned.”

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber, designed and built by Boeing. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber can carry up to 32,000kg of weapons and has a typical combat range of more than 14,080km without aerial re-fuelling.

The B-52 will perform a fly past Hood Aerodrome in Masterton on Saturday 27th February in the early afternoon. Because of its weight, it is unable to land at the Hood Aerodrome runway and no weapons will be carried on this flight as it enters New Zealand airspace.

The B-52’s scheduled participation remains subject to change in the event there are unforeseen weather conditions, operational requirements or unavoidable circumstances.

Organisers of this year’s air festival acknowledge the complexities of running such a large-scale event with the Covid-19 global pandemic. They are ensuring all Covid-19 social distancing, contact tracing and hygiene protocols are catered for at Alert Level 1 and that planning has occurred for any change in Alert Levels.

Wings Over Wairarapa general manager Jenny Gasson says being one of the first air shows in the world to get back off the ground [since Covid-19], she is expecting a large, varied crowd of people from aviation to non-aviation backgrounds.

“In addition to the spectacular flying programme there will be fantastic ground displays, as well as activities for small and big kids alike such as the STEM Aviation and Education programme designed to inspire youngsters to learn about potential aviation careers.”

This year’s three-day air festival gets underway on Friday, 26th February and features over 70 aircraft including vintage, military, New Zealand Defence Force, jets, helicopters, aerobatic displays and skydiving. Wings’ audiences have previously seen aircraft from WWI and WWII, including the world-famous Vintage Aviator aircraft collection owned by Sir Peter Jackson, which includes replicas of some of the earliest aeroplanes and this year will be no different.

“Whether you are an aviation enthusiast or just want an entertaining weekend away for the family, WINGS 2021 has so much to offer,” says Jenny.

Wings Over Wairarapa 2021: An Overview

Friday 26 February. Gates open 12pm-5pm.

Air Festival Programme - It is Practice Day

A special Aviation and Space STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Programme for Wairarapa schools is held on Friday to promote aviation careers. For the general public, it is a relaxed day with easy parking, less crowds, with the opportunity to be one of the first to see what is arriving at the Aerodrome for the weekend’s show.

Saturday 27 February. Gates Open: 8.00AM – 5.00PM

Air Festival Programme - 10.30am to 4.30pm

Saturday is traditionally the busier day for Wings Over Wairarapa.

Visitors will see over 70 aircraft including vintage, military, jets, helicopters, aerobatic displays, skydiving, the potential of a B-52 and much more! The Aviation and Space STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) on the ground activities continue.

Sunday 28 February. Gates Open: 8.00AM - 5.00PM

Air Festival Programme - 10.30am to 4.30pm

Sunday is usually a little more chilled out than Saturday but has a similar programme.

Visitors will see over 70 aircraft including vintage, military, jets, helicopters, aerobatic displays, skydiving and much more! The Aviation and Space STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) on the ground activities continue.

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