Retired jets boost Classic Flyers
Tauranga’s Classic Flyers is cementing its place as a premier New Zealand aviation museum with the allocation to it of two mothballed air force jet planes.
The museum is expecting to take delivery of a Royal New Zealand Air Force Skyhawk in February and a RNZAF Aermacchi at Easter.
Classic Flyers is owned by the Bay of Plenty Classic Aircraft Trust and its chairman, David Love, says there is also a chance the museum will receive a RNZAF Strikemaster.
“To have that triple whammy would be brilliant.”
Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp has announced American company JDI Holdings has purchased eight Skyhawks for $7.9 million with the rest of the mothballed aircraft being allocated to museums.
He also announced that Aermacchis and Strikemasters no longer needed by the RNZAF will go to aviation museums around New Zealand.
“The Skyhawks, Aermacchis and Strikemasters are an important part of New Zealand’s aviation history and they will make fine exhibits in our aviation museums,” says Wayne.
David Love says having one of each of these aircraft would be a significant boost for Classic Flyers and one that is appropriate for the museum.
“Our charitable objective is to preserve New Zealand’s classic aviation history and these three aircraft sit right in the middle of that – there couldn’t be three more important aircraft, so this really is brilliant news.
“It really puts us up right against the official RNZAF museum and MOTAT – we are in at that level.
“We have been recognised at senior government level by the Defence Minister as probably the most important private collection of New Zealand aircraft in New Zealand.”
Achieving this status was achieved through hard work and much “patient negotiation” with the Ministry of Defence and New Zealand Defence Force.
“First and foremost we have to prove to everyone we are a viable and going concern and of course everyone who comes to visit Classic Flyers is blown away by what we have done since we opened in 2005.”
Achieving this status has come much faster than David anticipated and this has caused some ‘good problems’ along the way.
“It was always our stated ambition, but it was really very long term.
“Our problem here has always been our success, so many things have happened so quickly we have run out of management resources to deal with it all – but there is nothing like success.
“The other thing is stagnation and you can’t stand still, you have to press ahead, and so we are pressing ahead and we are getting the fruits of our labour.
“When we first opened our greatest problem was we used to say ‘We are at Classic Flyers’ and people used to say ‘Where’s that, what’s that?’
“Now I think you ask anybody in Tauranga ‘What is Classic Flyers?’ and very few people wouldn’t know.”
The museum’s reputation is spreading internationally with spin-offs for the tourist attraction evident at the biennial air show – next held January 28-29, 2012.
“We are now getting the international reputation as one of the finest boutique air shows in the world and having these sorts of aircraft here is attracting people from all over the world to the air show.
“You get the aviation buffs who read about us, and we are talking about aviation magazines in America, UK, Canada, Australia and those people are buying tickets to come to the show.”
Delivery of a retired RNZAF Douglas A-4 Skyhawk comes at a cost of $30,000 to Classic Flyers and David says most of this has been successfully fundraised.
Delivery of an Aermacchi MB-339 at Easter to Classic Flyers is expected to cost about $10,000 and David is looking for a sponsor or community support to help with this.
The allocation of four RNZAF BAC 167 Strikemasters to museums around New Zealand is not yet made and costs not yet considered.
If Classic Flyers were to receive a Strikemaster, its delivery is anticipated for mid-2012.
Posted www.sunlive.co.nz at 11:05am Wednesday 16th Nov, 2011 | By Edward Scragg