Warbirds at Pohutukawa Landing
02 May 2023
Despite all being involved with New Zealand Warbirds at Ardmore for several decades, moving into the same retirement village was a complete surprise for residents Gavin and Judy Trethewey, Tony and Carol Harsant, and Dave and Carol Smith.
“We’re a tight-knit community of volunteers at Warbirds and we all know each other well, but none of us had any idea we were all moving to Pōhutukawa Landing. We’re just a stone’s throw away from each other,” says Carol Smith.
But it’s not just their address that they have in common. While the group have entirely diverse backgrounds, they all have a shared love for the preservation of the aviation industry.
As the former Chief Flying Instructor and past President of NZ Warbirds, Gavin Trethewey has seen Warbirds grow from humble beginnings to the impressive aircraft museum that it is today.
“We have over 20 aircraft on display to the public, and all but a few are still active. We have two hangers, an engine room, model collections and air displays operating throughout the year.
“NZ Warbirds is essentially a flying museum of our country’s aviation history,” says Gavin.
Run entirely by volunteers, the Pōhutukawa Landing couples each play a valuable role in the operation of the association.
“Dave and Carol are heavily involved with the visitor’s centre and management of the hangers. Tony’s passion for the industry has taken him and Carol all around the world, advocating for NZ Warbirds and helping with our air shows. And my involvement has largely been with air displays and restoration over the years,” says Gavin.
The restoration of an English Electric Canberra operated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force between 1959 – 1970 is currently keeping Gavin and Dave busy.
“The Canberra came to New Zealand from a dump in the UK. It’s spent 28 years outside corroding in the weather so it will take a while to complete the restoration. The fuselage is on display in the Warbirds display centre but the wings are still being worked on”. says Gavin.
Although the Canberra will remain a static display, keeping historic aircraft in the air is the number one mission for the association.
“We have military aircraft dating back to World War I that have been preserved to flying condition. Seeing these machines go up is truly spectacular. And we’re keeping the memory of the pilots who flew them alive.
“We also restore and maintain aircraft to keep them flying for future generations to enjoy,” says Dave.
“Being involved with NZ Warbirds is a way for us to all give back to the industry we love. The best part is meeting all the wonderful people that visit, the kids that leave smiling ear-to-ear, and the young men and women who come in, get inspired, and go on to become qualified pilots,” adds Tony.
If you’re interested in visiting NZ Warbirds at Ardmore, you can find out more at www.nzwarbirds.org.nz (http://www.nzwarbirds.org.nz)