Air show set to attract thousands

By Graham Skellern

Experienced flight instructor Phil Hooker will be flying high at the bigger-than-ever air show in Tauranga over the weekend.

Mr Hooker is flying six different aircraft in 10 displays over the two days of the Classics of the Sky Tauranga City Airshow at the airport.

"It's what I do every day - flying different types of aircraft while instructing. The only difference with the air show is that I will be doing it in front of 20,000 people," he said.

Mr Hooker, a former Air New Zealand pilot, will be completing aerobatics in a Cessna 152, the Furio RG - "the sleekest and sexiest plane around" - and Mustang T51 replica World War II fighter.

He will also do fly-bys in the Tecnam Twin trainer and Pipistrel motor glider, and be part of a five-strong gyrocopter formation team.

The Mustang Mr Hooker is piloting climbs at 91m per minute and has a maximum speed of 402km/h. The Italian-designed, carbon fibre Furio is a high performance cross-country cruiser.

The third Tauranga air show is now the biggest in the North Island and will be parading some of the best display aircraft in the country.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force's Red Checkers aerobatics team will again thrill the crowd - and so will the jets, three Mustangs, two Spitfires, subsonic Hawker Hunter, Vampire and Corsair.

The Thunder Mustang will be flown by its owner, Masterchef Simon Gault, and the two Spitfires, owned by Brendan Deere and Doug Brooker, are coming from Ohakea and Ardmore.

Cathay Pacific pilot Dave Philips will be stepping out of the Hawker Hunter jet into a tiger moth. The Hunter Hawker, based at Classic Flyers museum, will having its first display flight in four years.

The 28-seater DC3, also based at Classic Flyers, will be taking passengers for rides.

The Tauranga air show has attracted 30 display aircraft and up to 300 Sport Aircraft Association (SAA) planes which will remain on the field and can be viewed by the public.

Andrew Gormlie, the air show's co-director, said ticket sales were steady and "we are hoping for at least 25,000 people. At the end of the day, some will stay outside and watch, but they won't be able to see the show properly".

"We have a bigger line-up this time, and weather-wise we are going to get a couple of excellent days," he said.

Tauranga became the base for the biennial SAA air show after it was staged at Matamata for nearly 20 years. Organisers are determined to cement the show as the biggest in the North Island and to match the Warbirds over Wanaka International Airshow in the South Island.

Air show traffic

Traffic around Tauranga Airport this weekend is expected to be busy. People going to the air show are advised to follow the signage and any detours that may be in place.

For more information about how to get to the air show and where to park visit

Passengers and people meeting flights are advised to use Aerodrome Road where they will be checked and given access to the terminal building. Please allow extra time to get to the airport.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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