Warbirds Over Wanaka and Alpine Fighter Collection founder Sir Tim Wallis passed away on October 17, aged 85
The New Zealand-born entrepreneur and pilot had a seismic effect on the warbird movement in his home country, not only initiating the biennial Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow but also driving forward the restoration of numerous historic aircraft. Sir Tim has been described as being the single greatest 'influencer' in the world of warbird flying in New Zealand. In a statement, the airshow organisation said:
"Like everyone in the Warbirds family right around the world, Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow organisers are coming to terms with the loss of their founder, patron and number one fan - Sir Tim Wallis.
"Sir Tim died peacefully at his home in Wanaka on Tuesday afternoon with one of his favourite helicopters on the lawn outside his bedroom window. A memorial service for Sir Tim is being held at Wanaka Airport from 12 noon on Saturday October 28th.
"Sir Tim's passion for the airshow was maintained right up until the end and he had recently expressed his excitement about having the airshow back next March after having lost the last two through Covid. Airshow organisers will get together over the next few weeks and work on a fitting honour at next Easter's event. They already have a number of ideas of how to mark the death of one of the world's most famous Warbirds airshow pioneers."
Describing Sir Tim as a 'giant' in the warbird world, the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre noted: "Winged legends that Kiwis could never have expected to see flying in this country were added to his list of prized fighters. The Spitfire, Hurricane, P-40 Kittyhawk, Corsair were joined by a gaggle of Russian fighters starting with a Yak-3, and then joined by a batch of nine Polikarpov I-16 and I-153 fighters that were restored from wrecks in Russia for Tim, with a view to his keeping one of each type and selling the remainder - but not before all nine of the Polikarpovs, the only ones flying in the world, were put up over Wanaka Airport together in yet another of Tim's unique presentations.
"His contributions towards and support for all heritage aviation initiatives around New Zealand have been invaluable and will be applauded well into the future."
Blue skies, Sir Tim…