Explore the Air Force Museum of New Zealand

January 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

With a collection of twenty-eight classic aircraft, and millions of aviation-related mementos of all descriptions, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand has been preserving and presenting the fascinating history of the country’s Military Aviation since 1987. The museum is located at the Wigram Aerodrome just outside Christchurch. The aerodrome is named in honor of British-born New Zealand politician, businessman and aviator, Sir Henry Francis Wigram (1857-1934), in acknowledgement of his significant role in the establishment of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

Visitors to the museum are likely to spend hours viewing the huge assortment of memorabilia, including aircraft engines and other aircraft parts, weapons, pin-ups, documents, medals and even wedding dresses made from parachute-silk. The collection of aircraft is a reminder of the bravery of the men who flew them into battle, and as defensive measures against enemy attack. A replica home dating back to the 1940s provides insight into what life was like back then for men and women in the armed services, as well as their families. One of the more popular features of the museum is a flight simulator where visitors can climb in behind the controls and imagine being in the thick of a raging aerial battle.

Of the twenty-eight aircraft on display, seventeen are in the main complex of the museum, with the remainder being in hangars. The museum’s Behind the Scenes Tour takes visitors to view the stored aircraft, as well as the current restoration projects being carried out by skilled and dedicated aviation enthusiasts. The aircraft collection includes the Avro 626, North American Harvard, P-51 Mustang, Grumman Avenger, Hawker Siddely Andover, Lockheed Hudson, Vickers Vildebeest bi-planes, Bleriot XI, Cessna O2A and a replica of the Sopwith Pup.

The aircraft components collection of the museum includes propellers, instruments, radios, armaments, and a variety of airframe structures, while the engines on display illustrate the development of aviation engineering from the World War I era through to modern jet engines. More than 200 medal groups are on display, including the prestigious Victoria Cross. Other items visitors can view include a host of research documents, as well as oil paintings, prints and original cartoons.

Ever aware of environmental issues that are threatening our planet, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand has been awarded the Enviro-Gold standard by New Zealand tourism’s official quality agency, Qualmark. This status is reviewed annually and the museum is always open to suggestions on how to improve their environmental awareness and sustainability measures. Certainly the Air Force Museum of New Zealand offers an educational outing that the entire family will enjoy.

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