2021 Yealands Classic Fighters: Omaka, NZ


Knights of the Sky - Classic Fighters, Omaka

Knights of the Sky – Classic Fighters, Omaka

New date: Fri 3, Sat 4, Sun 5 Sep 2021.

In 2001, Classic Fighters was proud to be the first event in the Southern Hemisphere to host a dedicated WWI battle sequence involving multiple aeroplanes, military vehicles and sets.

All the show’s air and ground mock battle sequences are simply outstanding and get better every year! 2015 saw a scale V-1 “buzz bomb” flying around the field with Spitfires chasing it until it was destroyed in a ball of flames. The Omaka team are certainly blessed with ingenuity and creativity when it comes to the static and aerial displays!

Past air show themes have offered a tribute to the ANZACs, to women in aviation, to aviation in the movies or they have located the ‘action’ in various geographic theatres of war, such as North Africa, Italy and France. Each theme has provided the opportunity to showcase iconic aircraft in a different light, be they from the pioneer era, the Great War, the Golden Years of the 1920s and 30s or the Second World War, right up to current times. 2021 will be our 20th Anniversary, so to mark this occasion, we will draw on the best of the best of Classic Fighters to bring you an unforgettable Easter weekend of spectacular entertainment!

The show takes place on Easter Weekend at Omaka Airfield, Blenheim, New Zealand, which is also home to the internationally renowned Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. The centre has world class displays with their jewel entitled Knights of the Sky – a dedicated tribute to the Great War in the air, displaying over 20 WWI aircraft in a wonderful environment. This is a must-see display during your visit (you may wish to plan an extra day outside airshow days to see this properly).

Preparations for the 2021 Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow are already underway! More than just an airshow, it’s a brilliant weekend of action-packed, family friendly events with entertainment both in the air and on the ground.

Event organiser Graham Orphan says –

I’m delighted to confirm that we are headed towards Easter 2021 at ‘full-song’ planning for another unforgettable aviation-themed entertainment spectacular. As you know, we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary and as such, want to include something of a ‘Classic Fighters Greatest Hits’ component to the show, bringing back some of the brilliant creative elements that attracted that famous comment from the Editor of a UK based aviation monthly who described Classic Fighters as, “One of the world’s best and most innovative airshows”.

We know that your clientele are especially keen on seeing new aircraft not previously seen flying at New Zealand airshows and I’m pleased to advise that for 2021 I am expecting to be able to present debut appearances of aircraft from the First World War, the ‘Golden Age’ of aviation, as well as from the Second World War, so I am especially excited about that myself. You know that this passionate crew will be doing everything in our power to make this event the very best it can be and we al look forward to sharing that with you and your guests! See you then!

The weekend kicks off on Good Friday, the official practice day, a great opportunity to see and take a few pics in a more relaxed (fewer people!) environment. Food and merchandise stalls will be open all day and in the evening it’s the Twilight Extreme Show of sunset flying and spectacular fireworks.

Saturday & Sunday are the main show days with over 100 display aircraft expected to be participating, together with mock airfield attacks supported by ground theatre and pyrotechnics. There’s something for everyone with a Kid’s Fun Zone, classic cars, food and stalls selling everything except the kitchen sink!

Highlights of the show: 2017

WWI theatrical display

WWI theatrical display

The Great War

A number of significant machines from WWI/The Great War, will be on display with many of them flying – several which have not been seen flying at an airshow before. These will be supported by an impressive level of theatrical support with vehicles, props, sets, pyrotechnics and military personnel from the 1914-18 period, performing for your enjoyment.



World War II

The Second World War segment of Classic Fighters 2017 will be supported, as always, by a great variety of combat aircraft from the era, and in fact the organisers suspect they may well be able to boast the broadest range of different warbirds yet seen at a New Zealand airshow!

Alongside, will be the awesome award-winning Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered Spitfire Mk.XIV and Focke-Wulf FW-190. Both of these aircraft are resident at Omaka, as is the world’s sole airworthy, immaculate, Avro Anson Mk.I. Another locally-operated machine is the beautiful Yakovlev Yak-3, (“Full Noise”) and recently acquired Yak 9 (“Steadfast”) and potentially a 2nd Yak 3.. the crew at JEM Aviation also have another WWII Yak V-12 fighter well along with its restoration.

Spitfire line-up

In addition is a range of other WWII aircraft, including an F4U Corsair, Harvard display team, Messerschmitt Me108, P40 Kittyhawks, PBY Catalina, P51 Mustangs, THREE Spitfires, Dc-3s, CJ6 Nanchangs, the Avenger and a whole lot more “Heavy Metal”!

RNZAF “Black Falcons”

The recently formed Royal New Zealand Air Force Black Falcons formation aerobatics team will be flying at this year’s Easter airshow. Featuring new routines and new equipment in the form of the Beechcraft T-6 Texan. Graham Orphan, Yealands Classic Fighters Chairman says “The Black Falcon team’s Texans are very impressive in their all-black liveries and will be one of many highlights amid a strong RNZAF presence alongside the C-130 Hercules, P-3 Orion and more at this year’s Yealands Classic Fighters Airshow”.


It’s quite possible that the RAAF will also be sending again a handful of their F-18 Hornets.. this could well be the final time we see these incredible fighters display as they are being replaced by the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (here’s hoping we might be lucky enough to even see these in Omaka’s skies in the future?)!

The theme for this year’s Yealands Classic Fighters airshow at Omaka is [TBA].

This coming Easter you can expect to see the now rare spectacle of no fewer than THREE examples of the iconic Douglas DC-3 Dakota gathered in the same place – the first time in decades that this number of non-camouflaged Dakotas has been assembled anywhere in New Zealand. This has only been made possible within the last 18 months by the arrival of two DC-3s; one returning and the other arriving for the first time.

Airshow organisers expecting a record number of Chinese ex-military aircraft to gather over Easter. The Chinese designed and built Nanchang CJ-6a warbird has enjoyed a half century long career in its country of birth, such are the enduring flying qualities of this fine aircraft which are a great entry level warbird as well as the Yak 52.New Zealand has one of the most impressive Yak 52 display team around!

As always organisers are planning a major WW-I aviation and ground theatre event in collusion with the folks from TVAL. A feature of this has always been the ‘Magnificent Seven’ clutch of Fokker Triplanes, something that is very special to Omaka! We hope to see no less than seven Triplanes fly. Along with the resident black Triplane, we will have and amazing EIGHT of these iconic machines on the field.

Warbird Flights

During the weekend you’ll also have the opportunity to take a ride in many warbirds … imagine yourself in the passenger seat of a P-51 Mustang, a P-40 Kittyhawk, a Yak 3 (Full Noise), or a cruisey ride in the DC 3 Dakota, Avro Anson or PBY Catalina.

Yak-3 Joy Rides
Warbirds AdventureFlights


Accommodation ranges from quaint B&B’s (Bed & breakfasts), motels, hotels and resort lodges… so whatever your budget we have something for you.

We can tailor complete or just part packages to suit – international or domestic flights, rental car, accommodation and entry passes to the airshow.

As a guide: airport pick up and drop off and car rental, 4 nights motel accommodation and 3 day General Admission Pass to Classic Fighters from $675 per person


Experience the excitement of Classic Fighters for all 3 days of the show or purchase a single day ticket, valid for whichever day you choose to arrive. There are child, student and family concessions. Due to popular demand they are also offering a special deal on Friday evening (after 4pm), so you can come along just for the Twilight Extreme of flying and sensational fireworks. A must do for every family.

There are the standard general admission tickets as well as the 3 day gold pass option- which is a must for any aviation geek! With grandstand seating you’ll have the best view in the house!

While every attempt is made to display these aforementioned magnificent aircraft (either static or flying) it is of course subject to confirmation closer to the time. As you can imagine there are a number of factors which affect the attendance of specific aircraft.

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