Following the cancellation of the 2022 Airshow the board of the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust has made the decision to suspend its Flying Scholarships for the next two years. This is due to the lack of funding to support the Scholarships.
It is the board’s intention that given a successful Airshow in 2024, the scholarships will be resumed that year.
To date the Trust has awarded eight scholarships which has enabled the recipients to achieve a number of milestones on their own journeys towards becoming Warbird display pilots, ranging from obtaining a T-6 Harvard rating to becoming proficient in flying a Spitfire. A number of these pilots were due to fly at Warbirds Over Wanaka 2022 while others are involved with the organisation of the Airshow.
The aim of the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust Flying Scholarships is to address one of the risks identified around the future sustainability of our Airshow – a possible lack of Warbird display pilots in future years. The Trust is looking for younger pilots, passionate about Warbirds who wish to have access to these aircraft with a view to flying them.
This quote in a letter to Warbirds Over Wanaka from 2017 scholarship winner Michael Williams says it all:
"As you are aware, I put my Scholarship towards type-rating training in the P-40 Kittyhawk. We didn't get to complete all of the flying at the one time and it has taken until now to "line up the planets" in order to get the aircraft, Frank Parker and myself in the same place and time. Suffice to say however, as of now I am officially type rated in the P-40, with the final flight being one of the best 30 minutes of my life whilst trialling a display routine just south of Ardmore. I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the opportunity. The Scholarship was the critical factor that enabled all of this to happen, and for that I cannot thank you enough."