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Flypast to mark 85 years of Royal New Zealand Airforce

The 85th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Airforce, Te Tauaarangi o Aotearoa will be marked on Saturday with a flypast over most of the North Island.

T6-C Texans from the RNZAF Central Flying School conduct formation flying.
T6-C Texans from the RNZAF Central Flying School conduct formation flying. Photo: NZDF

A World War II Spitfire, an Avenger from the Air Force's heritage display flight, and two T6-C Texan aircraft from its central flying school will fly from Ōhakea airbase in Manawatū to Auckland, and back.

The planes are due to leave Ōhakea at 9.30am and fly along the west coast over Whanganui, Taranaki, King Country and Waikato to Whenuapai airbase.

They will return after 2pm via Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō and Hawke's Bay. The airforce said timings were approximate and locations weather dependent.

On 1 April 1937 the Air Force Act took effect, formally recognising air power as a critical element of the country's security. In the years since, the RNZAF has served in military operations from World War II and other conflicts through to peacekeeping missions all over the world.

Air Force personnel have been part of almost every New Zealand Defence Force deployment, and other operations, including the delivery of humanitarian aid and providing support to the work of other government agencies, such as fisheries patrols and support to Antarctica.

The Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark, said the diversity of operations was enormous.

"We never know what will crop up next, and that has been defining for us - continuously maintaining and honing our skills, to make us a team that can turn its hand and technology to meet whatever challenge we are called upon to face," he said in a statement.

"Thousands of Kiwis have served with us over the years."

Last May the government approved $206 million for major upgrades at Manawatū's Ōhakea Air Force Base.

Ōhakea will be home to four new Boeing P-8A Poseidons planes from 2023 and number five squadron will shift from Whenuapai to Ōhakea to fly them. The P8s replace the ageing Orion fleet which went into service in the 1960s.

The $250m construction programme at Ōhakea, which began in late 2020, is on track to be finished later next year.

Roofs for the Ōhakea Air Force base aircraft hangars are being built on the ground. Cranes will hoist them into place.
Roofs for the Ōhakea Air Force base aircraft hangars are being built on the ground. Photo: RNZ / Jimmy Ellingham

Te Whare Toroa will house the RNZAF's fleet of the four P8 maritime patrol aircraft. They cost about $2.3 billion and are being built in the United States.

The fleet will be used for maritime patrols and overseas deployments, flying from Manawatū.

source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/464949/flypast-to-mark-85-years-of-royal-new-zealand-airforce