Tucked away in Ardmore just a short way up the road from the NZMCA park is a little gem – the NZ Warbirds Museum. We glimpsed it earlier in the week when we stayed at Ardmore briefly, and noticed it was only open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. So to get the chance for a visit, we departed from our weekend caravan rally at Riverhead on Sunday morning to return to Ardmore in good time.
The New Zealand Warbirds Association does not aim to glorify war at all, but rather, to see some of these grand old military aircraft preserved in flying condition for the enjoyment of all – from a Harvard to a Tiger Moth. Warbirds was originally conceived in 1978 to preserve ex-RNZAF service aircraft only but this has been expanded by the successful introduction of service aircraft from all over the world including Russian, German and Chinese types. British and American aircraft never seen in service here also figure prominently.
View from the balcony
The volunteer member on duty welcomed us to NZ Warbirds and gave us a Safety Sheet spelling out some of the dangers. As this is a working environment with a paint shop and engine room (both off limits) but we had to be well aware of any issues. The main issue being, as far as I could see, was walking into all those wings and propellers which seem to be positioned at just the right height to bump your head or poke your eyes out!
First through the door was a large grey Skyhawk, multi purpose combat plane, made in USA. 24 Skyhawks served in the RNZAF from 1970 to 2001.
The Italian made Aermacchi trainer and light strike plane certainly looked the part – sleek and dangerous to my eyes. 18 of the aircraft served in the RNZAF from 1991 to 2001. But we were told that they have a flaw in the design, the air intake have been known to suck in debris, which is not good at all.
The bright orange De Havilland Beaver was built in 1948. The RNZAF operated a single Beaver for many years to support the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
De Havilland Beaver
Commemorative shirt on display
The newly finished mezzanine floor displays the huge model collection. Case after case shows the meticulously made models, those who love such tiny works of art will be be in for a real treat.
Just some of the many models on display
Many posters on display upstairs
There is certainly plenty to see here, and the museum is well worth a visit if you are passing by. Those with NZMCA membership can stay nearby at the Ardmore park.