Big B-52 Stratofortress to star at Warbirds Over Wanaka

A huge star has been found for this Easter’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Air Show.

A giant, eight-engined United States Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber is scheduled to carry out a flyover display at Wanaka Airport on the Sunday of the show.

Show general manager Ed Taylor said this week the bomber would fly direct from the USAF’s Andersen Air Force base in Guam, complete its display at Wanaka and fly on to Australia without landing.

He said it would be the first time a B-52 had flown over New Zealand.

Asked how he had managed to secure the display, Mr Taylor said the show worked through the Royal New Zealand Air Force and had a ‘‘great relationship’’ with the USAF, which had provided aircraft at the past two shows.

‘‘This time, we went back to them and talked to them about what was possible.’’

An American B-52 bomber similar to this will put on a display at the Easter Warbirds Over Wanaka...
An American B-52 bomber similar to this will put on a display at the Easter Warbirds Over Wanaka International Air Show. PHOTO: REUTERS

Getting a bomber with the ‘‘iconic status of the B-52’’ had been ‘‘pretty special’’.

‘‘It’s an opportunity for people to see a truly iconic military aircraft that you don’t get to
see normally unless you’re at some of the major overseas airshows.’’

Details of the display had yet to be finalised as clearance had only just been given by the United States Pacific Air Forces base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.

Mr Taylor said as with all military aircraft, the B-52 coming to Wanaka was ‘‘subject to operational and engineering requirements’’.

The B-52 began service in 1955 to carry and deliver nuclear and conventional weapons. It will not be carrying any ordnance on its flight over Wanaka.

The B-52 rose to prominence in newsreels of it on bombing duties during the Vietnam War.

The USAF is also bringing its most up-to-date Hercules — a C-130J-30 Super Hercules — to the show, and the Royal Australian Air Force is bringing its F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets.


B-52 strategic bomber

Length: 49m
Wingspan: 56m
Top speed: 1046kmh
Range: 14,162km
Introduced: February 1955
Number built: 744
Number flying: 58 still in active
service and 18 in reserve

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