The skies over Awatoto will be filled with the sights and sounds of some remarkable aircraft this weekend, but for the members of Model Flying Hawke's Bay the most welcome aerial visitor would be mild and clear skies.

But at this stage that is still something of an unknown factor as the MetService forecast for Saturday and Sunday is for showers developing on Saturday but clearing to clouds and breaks of sun on Sunday — with easterly winds.

But they are a stoic crew who take to the air and over the past eight months have had plenty of meteorological dramas to deal with.

Back in September only those with a model flying boat would have been able to take off and land at the strip the club has been operating on since 1992.

The Awatoto airfield after it became a lake in the wake of two belts of heavy rain last year. Photo / Supplied
The Awatoto airfield after it became a lake in the wake of two belts of heavy rain last year. Photo / Supplied

Heavy rains which had turned the grass strip into a small lake earlier in June returned, with club secretary Brett Robinson describing the scene that greeted concerned club members as "Lake Awatoto".

Heavy silt had formed across the grasslands and the concrete aircraft starting pads had disappeared from sight.

"We had never seen such a serious silt drop," Robinson said.

"It killed a lot of grass and two large sections needed repairing a re-sowing — we only wrapped it all up about a month ago."

The club engaged a contractor last October who cultivated the worst of the affected fields by hoeing them, leaving them for a few days, then hoeing again, then leaving — and then finally rolling the ground.

Grass was re-sown in November and the airfield is back in good shape.

"So we finally now have our field back to almost normal operation again," Robinson said, adding they were grateful to the support from Model Flying New Zealand which came up with a sizeable grant to help pay for the $4000 recovery project.

All the toil has meant the annual Warbirds over Awatoto event can take place. Robinson said the registrations so far were very strong and he expected the turn-out of local and model flyers from across the country to be up around the 38 who flew last year.


Everything from World War I bi-planes through to the great fighters of World War II and into the jet age will take to the skies over the now restored airfield and aerial environs.

Last year's event drew about 2500 spectators over the two days and the club hoped this weekend's event, which runs between 10am and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday, will echo that.

One new arrival star of the show will be a one-quarter scale model of a World War II Hawker Tempest which has been painstakingly built from scratch by Havelock North's Phil Sharp, whose engineering background is evident.

He started building the aircraft about six years ago but had a two-year break when he moved to the Bay from Kerikeri and could set up his workshop again.

He hopes to have it in the air on Saturday although its power and size means it has to be CAA approved but hopes to have that sorted on Friday.

"So it hasn't been in the air yet but it is ready to fly."

He hopes to get it airborne on Saturday but that decision will have to be made on the day.

"But it will be there on display."

It has a twin-cylinder 100cc engine and weighs in at 19kg.

"It's got plenty of horsepower," he said, and he knows quite a bit about that.

In 1972 he started working for McLaren F1 as a mechanic and was chief mechanic for the team in 1980/81.

"So yeah, good training," he laughed.

He has also built a World War I Sopwith Camel and has "a few more other bits and pieces".