Omaka News

Further to the announcement that the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre will be welcoming the John Smith Collection to the museum we have launched a Give A Little Page to assist with the costs of breathing new life into these magnificent machines.

 

Included is John’s pride and joy, the de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber. This WW2 icon has been in storage since the 1960s and is now desperately in need of some TLC. To do justice to this great privilege, the Trust needs to send a team of experienced aircraft engineers to carry out the preliminary work of removing the engines and then engage Mosquito experts AvSpecs Ltd to carefully disassemble the major sections, before transporting it all to a hangar at Omaka where the process will be reversed.

 

The original paint on the Mosquito is too poor to provide adequate surface protection so the decision has been made in concert with the family's wishes to sensitively re-coat the aircraft with a protective paint finish in a suitable scheme (details of which will come later).

 

Once this has been completed the aircraft will be moved into the evocative museum space set aside for it where final detail work will continue over the following few months, with a view to having it fully completed to display standard.

 

Over the Easter weekend when the Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow takes place at Omaka, the WW2 Dangerous Skies hall is normally closed, since all the flyable aircraft are outside for the airshow. This coming Easter 2021, our plan is to use this temporary space to display the Smith Collection, with the Mosquito joining the Lockheed Hudson already in the museum, along with John’s Tiger Moth and famous ‘Gloria Lyons’ P-40.

 

So many people have known about these significant aircraft for many years, but very few have had the privilege of seeing them. That will change with your help, when we open the John Smith tribute display to the public next Easter.

 

If you would like to make a contribution towards this project please click here.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Welcomes Rare Warbirds

The John Smith Collection - the aviation equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave

14 July 2020

We are excited and honoured to announce that the family of deceased aviation collector, John Smith have appointed the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (OAHC) to work with them as guardians of his remarkable collection, to preserve and publicly display these hero aircraft to New Zealand and the world.

 

The John Smith collection had its beginnings in the 1950’s when as a young man he witnessed wholesale scrapping of warbirds around the world and even in his own backyard. John lived in Mapua and was aware that over the hill in Marlborough, historic warplanes such as Mustangs, Mosquitos and Hudsons were being broken up. He managed to save several key aircraft and stored them in a shed on his Mapua property, where they remained as untouched, and for the most part unseen, records of NZ aviation history.

 

Over the decades, word of the Kiwi recluse with his rare warbird collection reached around the world. Collectors travelled from across the planet to try to purchase his aeroplanes but left empty handed. John’s shed was the aviation equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave, fuselages lined up parallel to one another like sardines, symmetrically arranged either side of a fully assembled Mosquito. “Many of us have seen restored combat aircraft from WW2, albeit in small numbers, however these aircraft were the ‘real deal’, carrying the original paint they wore when parked under the palm trees on some Pacific atoll, being rearmed before going back to battle”, says OAHC board member Graham Orphan.

 

The Smith aircraft destined for display at OAHC include a complete de Havilland Mosquito, John’s own original Tiger Moth and New Zealand’s most famous P-40, ‘Gloria Lyons’. They will join the Lockheed Hudson, formerly gifted by John to Bill Reid, also on display at Omaka.

 

Conservation work has commenced on the P-40 and the next milestone is the disassembling of the Mosquito and transporting it from Mapua to Omaka. Given the fragility and historical significance of the fuselage it requires specialised expertise and transportation. Future fundraising efforts including any profits from the Yealands Classic Fighters Air Show will be funnelled into this significant project and any donations or offers of sponsorship in kind will be gratefully accepted.

Omaka Wings & Wheels Day -  28 June, 10am-2pm

26 June 2020

This Sunday from 10am until 2pm, we are hosting an Omaka Wings & Wheels Day. The Omaka flying community are bringing out their magnificent machines and they will be joined by some fantastic classic cars, all on display for your viewing pleasure. Please note that there is no formal flying program as this is not an airshow but it is a great opportunity to get up close, take some photos and if the conditions are suitable, we have no doubt the aircraft owners will be eager to take to the sky!

If you have a hankering to join them, there are several joy flight options available including Marlborough's very own Reno Air Racer, Yak-3 Full Noise 35, the one and only Avro Anson Mk.1 Gentle Annie and Foxy the Fox Moth. Please click on the links for more info and to make a booking. For anyone contemplating learning to fly, the Marlborough Aero Club (M.A.C) can make it happen and will be onsite offering advice and trial flights, more details here.

It's hungry (& thirsty) work bird watching, so we've enlisted the help of JJs Food Truck who will be onsite keeping us warm from the inside out. Kick off the morning with a 'Hog & Hen' and follow it up with a 'Flaming Chicken', 'Oceans 11' or JJ's ultimate Beef burger and a side of loaded fries. The team at Omaka's Comet Cafe have got your coffee and cake requirements covered and we'll also be serving up some tasty hot soup. As it's a special kind of a day we will have Yealands Wines and Renaissance Beers on sale accompanied by the sweet, sweet sounds of jazz duet 41 South!

Every museum entry on the day goes into the draw to win a flight in the world's only flyable Avro Anson Mk.1. Since you have already purchased the Omaka Flight Pass, as a token of our sincere appreciation you will receive two entries. The draw will be taking place at 1.30 pm and you must be here and ready to fly as you will be taking to the sky (weather permitting) straight away!

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for some Marlborough sunshine, dress warmly and please follow our Facebook page for updates.

 

Please follow our Facebook page for updates as all flying is subject to weather conditions.

All proceeds go towards the future development and expansion of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. For more information, phone (03) 579 1305 or email info@omaka.org.nz

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Welcomes Rare Warbirds

The John Smith Collection - the aviation equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave

14 July 2020

Omaka Wings & Wheels Day -  28 June, 10am-2pm

26 June 2020

All proceeds go towards the future development and expansion of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. For more information, phone (03) 579 1305 or email info@omaka.org.nz

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Welcomes Rare Warbirds

The John Smith Collection - the aviation equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave

14 July 2020

Omaka Wings & Wheels Day -  28 June, 10am-2pm

26 June 2020

All proceeds go towards the future development and expansion of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. For more information, phone (03) 579 1305 or email info@omaka.org.nz