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Warbirds over Wanaka 1998
The theme for this show was Russian, and the Polikarpovs really stole the show.

Polikarpov I-153  
I have to start with my favourite for the show, the wonderful Polikarpov I-153.  This sweet wee aeroplane didn't fly at the show because of damage caused by a wheels up landing on it's first test flight in New Zealand.  The undercarriage apparently worked well on ground testing, but didn't like flying.  A good friend tells me they had similar problems with the prototype F-105!

Postscript October 1999:  The September issue of "Pacific Wings" magazine reports that the I-153 flew successfully.  Tom Middleton reportedly lowered and raised the undercarriage "with a twinge of apprehension" during the flight.



The wheels up landing didn't seem to cause too much damage (TV3 had a brilliant shot of it), but the May 1998 edition of " New Zealand Wings "* reports that it has a cracked lower spar.  There are two more I-153's due from Russia, the options are to strip one off one of the new ones, or try and source a new spar from somewhere.

*Now "Pacific Wings".



In this shot you can clearly see the 'gull wing' shape of the upper surface.

The Polikarpov I-16's were the stars of the show.  They rattled around, chewing up large chunks of sky in a kind of wonderful aerial ballet. The five of them took off together, then one of them split off to do the solo ship thing.  The scenery and surroundings at Wanaka enhance the atmosphere of the display, the scene towards the mountains in the dusk create some wonderful blues and greys. 



I've got quite a few more I-16 photo's, click here to see 'em or follow the link at the bottom of the page.  Please note, this is a very graphics intensive page!



  Where else could you see such a formation? The gorgeous Yak-3 and three Polikarpov I-16's. .


Tom Middleton, quoted in "New Zealand Aviation News", says "[The] final approach before landing is the most demanding phase.  The Polikarpov has no flaps nor any trim tabs.  With poor visibility over the nose the curved approach prior to landing is quite demanding.  Heavy back pressure on the elevators is required when the undercarriage is down and speed over the Threshold is 175 km/hr (108 mph). "
  "With the stall occurring at 150 km/hr (93 mph) there is a fine margin for the pilot, particularly with the nose high attitude."


  Yak 3 Here's the Yak-3 just after touching down. This aircraft was later sold to a buyer in Australia.


Another visual delight for Warbirds over Wanaka 1998 was this two-seater Mig-15 UTI.

MiG 15 UTi

  Cessna Dragonfly
The Cessna A-37B Dragonfly and the Concrete Mixer T-28, sorry, Trojan did a good display together, although half way through the display on the Sunday, the Trojan started trailing smoke - not part of the display.

The pilot did an amazingly quick precautionary landing - he was more or less downwind anyway, so he dropped the undercarriage while cranking it into an approach.  The whole thing was over very quickly, can't have been too much but it struck me as being the best part of the display!



The late Ray and Mark Hanna's attendance and participation was much appreciated.  in 1998 they brought their own P-40E, which (IIRC) was restored for them in Auckland. Nice to see one painted in RNZAF Pacific markings.   "Wairarapa Wildcat" is perhaps the most famous  of New Zealand's' P-40's.


This pretty wee beastie is a Sukhoi Su-31, owned by Nigel Arnot.  Lucky man!  He's the current Australian aerobatic Champion, and it shows.  A great display in an amazing aeroplane.




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  (c) Copyright Brian Greenwood 2008