Aerial treat in store for Art Deco festival

The skies will be alive next year as aviation enthusiasts enjoy a special treat at February's GEON Art Deco Weekend when the Royal New Zealand Air Force holds part of its 75th anniversary celebrations here.

Wing Commander Bill Blaikie said it was a privilege to partner with the high-profile Art Deco.

"It's a great partnership - this is a really important thing for us," he said.

At least 10 events would be Air Force focused and twice the usual number of planes will be here.

With the Warbirds, Vintage Harvards and Red Checkers back in the skies, there will be lots of aerobatics and low formation passes over the Bay during the weekend. Also, six DHAD 2 Tiger Moths, a P51 Mustang and a large number of privately owned planes will be on show.

Len Searle, from the Napier Aero Club, said it would be the biggest number of vintage airplanes ever to be seen in Napier and an amazing sight.

The GEON Art Deco Weekend is Hawke's Bay largest event and in its 24th year. As well as 30,000 people there will be 300 vintage cars and a choice of 220 different ways to party over the six days.

Art Deco Trust general manager Sally Jackson said new events had been introduced marking 75 years of the Air Force, including a special concert and a celebration dinner at the Mission Estate Winery, which has already sold out.

The Air Force Central Band will also take a high profile position marching within the Vintage Car Parade and in the Sound Shell concerts.

"It just keeps getting bigger and bigger," Mrs Jackson said.

The public will have a fantastic opportunity to view the planes both in the air and on the ground and there will be good opportunities to get up close to the machines and meet and chat with the pilots themselves," she said.

Resident Naval officer Lieutenant Commander Neville Smith has been involved with the weekend since it started "with eight cars and 40 people". As a 15-year sponsor and GEON central regions general manager, he has a long association with Art Deco and also represents the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The bond with the Navy was forged during the 1931 earthquake, when sailors from the Veronica, Diomede and Dunedin came to the regions aid. The HMS Veronica, was moored at Napier at the time of the earthquake and her crew immediately joined the rescue effort in the shattered city.

The Art Deco event has been described as one of the best festivals in the world by the Lonely Planet and the BBC.

For details on GEON Art Deco Weekend, running February 16-19, 2012, visit

- Hawkes Bay Today

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