Realistic and dramatic dioramas of WWI and II aviation scenes, expertly refurbished aircraft and personal items belonging to famous pilots including the Red Baron are just some of the things you’ll find at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.
Located at a small club airfield in two very unassuming hangars, the museum’s humble outward appearance belies the fact that it is a world-class aviation treasure trove with one of the largest collections of WWI aircraft in the world including original, rebuilds, reproductions and models.
There is also an impressive array of rare memorabilia such as personal items belonging to, among many others, Germany’s Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen and the infamous Hermann Goering. The Red Baron’s belongings include letters, trophies and even a tattered piece of his plane's canvas covering showing the Iron Cross.
All of this and more has been arranged into a series of lifelike dioramas that place the aircraft in true to life context using world class cinematic special effects created by the much-awarded Wellington-based Weta Workshop and WingNut Films.
Many of the exhibits have come from the personal collection of film director Sir Peter Jackson - best known for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. His Great War (WWI) aircraft items are seen in the Knights of the Sky exhibition which includes Curtiss MF Flying Boat, the Italian time capsule Caproni CA.22 and Fokker Triplanes.
The museum’s second and newest exhibition, Dangerous Skies, focuses on WWII and features a mix of original and replica warbirds, including the world’s only flyable Avro Anson Mk.1 and a Griffon powers Mk.XIVe Spitfire.
Both exhibitions hold an extensive collection of uniforms, instruments and personal items belonging to famous Allied and Axis pilots. Detailed information signs and meticulous labelling give a true and fascinating insight into the often desperate and horrific war time situations these pilots and their aircraft found themselves in.
Knowledgeable guides are on hand throughout the museum to provide information and direction, or book a guided tour.
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is not entirely ground-based. Surrounded by Marlborough’s active and enthusiastic military and civilian aviation scene, it is not unusual to see war-era aircraft buzzing overhead, and you too can experience a trip into Marlborough’s clear blue skies.
Take an open-cockpit flight in a US Army Air Corps 455hp Boeing Stearman, or get the adrenalin flowing with some high-speed aerobatics in a Yak-3 - a V-12 Russian Fighter capable of 407mph.
Omaka’s own expert aviation photographer will capture you in-flight on high quality digital video for a truly unique take-home souvenir.
Marlborough Tour Company offers Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre visits as part of its tours, or ask for a private transfer from Tarquin’s Picton Marina berth.
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