Wairarapa is set to host the National Aerobatic Championships for the second year running, from March 16-19.

Last year the event, run by the New Zealand Aerobatic Club, relocated to Masterton's Hood Aerodrome after being held for almost 30 years in Hawke's Bay.

The Wairarapa and Ruahine Aero Club took over hosting the competition after it was forced to move because of encroaching real estate at the airfield at Waipukurau.

The competition will feature about 20 pilots in their custom-built aircraft, performing routines within a 1000sq m "box" marked out on the aerodrome.


Men and women come from all around New Zealand to compete, with some being internationally based commercial pilots.

Desmond Barry, who is from Auckland and a committee member of the New Zealand Aerobatic Club, will be competing in his RV 7.

He said the event was the biggest aerobatic competition in New Zealand, and this year would be the event's first time featuring international judges.

"There's a lot of guys having fun in the sky, safely and professionally," Mr Barry said.

Competitors take part in four categories, according to their skill level.

"There are different levels -- basic for the newbies and they go up to advanced with very high-powered, capable aeroplanes with capable pilots."

Mr Barry said the difference between an airshow display and an aerobatics competition was precision.

"Displays are big and made to look good but competitions are how accurate you can be with your flying.

"At the same time we are spinning the plane, rolling the plane and doing routes with judges looking at how precise our flying is in a confined area -- it's very challenging."

Mr Barry started competing three years ago and encourages anyone with an interest in aviation to go along and watch the competition.

Wairarapa and Ruahine Aero Club secretary Simone Hewson said she had received positive feedback from pilots after last year's event.

"We're very fortunate with Hood Aerodrome because there's lots of space and it's not a built-up area. "Because of the air space they can fly around and it's not restricted."

She said it was a safe environment, which gave the pilots more freedom to do their routines.

"It's an incredible opportunity to see these planes and these pilots who are incredibly skilful doing these impressive manoeuvres. It's so inspiring," said Ms Hewson.

The event is free for spectators.