Warbirds launches initiatives aimed at people keen to try flying

Warbirds Over Wanaka (Wow) has announced two initiatives for the Easter 2014 airshow to help find the next generation of Warbirds pilots.

Wow general manager Ed Taylor said the organisation had backing from the New Zealand Warbirds Association and the head of the Royal New Zealand Air Force for the initiatives, which were aimed at people keen to try flying.

Wow would invite sport aircraft to the next airshow - everything from gyrocopters to microlights and home-builts to replicas, creating an opportunity for people to see ''how affordable it can be to get into flying'', Mr Taylor said.

Easter Monday, immediately following the three-day airshow, had been set aside as a ''Rides Day'', when local operators and visiting aircraft owners would offer rides to the public.

''While we're still to confirm exactly what aircraft will be available we're hoping it will include warbirds, Tiger Moths, microlights, Tecnams, the DC3 and the Catalina.''

There will be no entry fee to the airport on Rides Day, but a cost will apply for the flights.

RNZAF air vice-marshall Peter Stockwell supported initiatives aimed at attracting people to aviation. ''We're keen to be involved in the Rides Day concept but how we are involved will depend on aircraft availability and operational imperative,'' AVM Stockwell said.

NZ Warbirds Association president Frank Parker also backed any moves which might result in more potential pilots being interested in flying older aircraft. ''A casual glance along the heavy metal flightline at most airshows is akin to the social welfare office on pension day,'' Mr Parker said. ''NZ Warbirds' motto is `Keep 'em flying' and we're well aware that you need pilots to do that.''

The association had been active in recent years in trying to get new members into the pilot ranks, with regular training weekends and syndication of aircraft ownership to try to make it easier for several pilots to own the same warbird.

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