Jet Race Wanaka

There is more to Wanaka than its Autumn colours. For the first time in the Southern Hemisphere the Wanaka Airshow (N.Z.) featured a ‘Jet Race’.

Famed racers (x3) from the ‘Reno Air Race’ (U.S.) competed against 3 Kiwi’s. Aircraft used were mixed vintage L39 Albatross jets and 2 Vampires!! L39 are modern (1960’s plus) jet styles whilst the Vampire is post WW2 jet technology (flew in 1945) – even has wood in its nose construction! It seems that the Vampire can give its own in the straights loosing to the modern jets in the tight turns.

With two inflatable pylons marking the ‘home straight’ of the airstrip the other boundaries were defined by the Clutha River and farm/forest areas. A WW2 era Kittyhawk flew high and central as umpire and away they went.

VERY low flybys and tight turns, combined with jostling for positions whilst flying at 750kmh PLUS, made for exciting scenes not witnessed in our region.

At the race conclusion organisers came to the photography area to ask if anyone had clear shots of the finish as their own system had failed! Two were able to oblige and points positions announced. The next airshow is set for Easter 2016.

1970's era L39 Albatross
Post WW2 Vampire. In NZ service until 1970's!!!!!!
Can you see the smile on the pilots faces!!
Jostle for position
The finish line