Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim – Day 246
Peter Jackson’s collection of World War 1 Planes right here in New Zealand
Today we are checking out the impressive Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim. If you like this video and want more inspiration for your trip in New Zealand, then just check out our 365 Days: 365 Activities on YouTube – it’s epic! Even if we say so ourselves.
Today we are checking out Peter Jackson’s collection of World War 1 planes.
This morning we are seeking out something really special for you guys. We want to find something in the Blenheim and Marlborough area which is awesome to do but indoors just in case you get a rainy day when visiting the area. And we’ve found the perfect stuff It’s the Omaka Aviation Centre.
So everything in here, this exhibition Knights of the Sky actually belongs to Sir Peter Jackson so it’s a world’s largest private collection of World War One aircraft and memorabilia in the world.
All our assumptions of the Omaka Aviation Centre have been completely thrown out of the window as we walk into this very first hanger. this is more than just your dusty museum with a few planes on display each plane has its own scene set out as if it was a movie.
The first exhibition that we are checking out is Sir Peter Jackson’s Knights of the Sky. It is a collection of World War 1 aircraft and artifacts set in magnificent scenes it depicts the aircraft in context and sometimes it recreates some incidents that actually happened in the war.
In between the gigantic airplane scenes there are a few exhibitions that display rare memorabilia from the World War 1 it’s impressive to see this huge collection which is worthy of a national collection. There is beautifully craft trench art and there is also personal items belonging to the famous Red Baron himself but we’ll get back to that a bit later.
And because World War 1 was basically the first conflict that was actually fought in the sky as well before that everything was on the ground, the entire exhibition shows the evolution of the aircraft from the most primitive ones which were literally just a bunch of pieces of wood strapped together to the latest ones which were quite good technological feat.
it’s super interesting to see the technological advancements of these planes which started off as pretty sketchy designs to a lot better planes that you feel more comfortable in. Aside from that though, all the exhibitions sort of tell the story of the individuals involved in the war.
these guys are scared, you know average age probably 20 and the average lifespan at that time was six flying days.
One of the most striking scenes that we see in the this exhibition is that of the Nieuport 27 which has crashed into a tree. These scenes look so realistic and they have been created by Peter Jackson and his film studio, Wingnut Studio, as well as the Weta Workshop whic you guys have seen our video from Wellington and they were behind all the special effects and props from movies like The Lord of the Rings.
For that reason, that’s why all those mannequins look so realistic and another really cool thing is that there’s a lot of animals and birds hidden within the scenes so it’s really worth looking out for those.
After seeing the allied forces side of this World War 1 hanger, we’re then moving onto the Axis side with loads of memorabilia on display.
World War 1 is a conflict that Laura and I have heard a lot about. I’m from France and she’s from the Uk so most of our childhood spent in classrooms during history lessons was about World War 1 but it’s very interesting to find more about New Zealand involvement during this conflict. It’s quite interesting to see that a country so far away from the conflict had such a major role into this conflict.
The last major scene that we are seeing in the World War One exhibition is the death of the Red Baron. the Red Baron was probably the most famous German pilot during the World War One conflict and he got shot down over France. It’s impressive the collection here includes such a a massive amount of rare artifacts about this very scene despite that fact that well, we’re in New Zealand, no where near Europe.
Our guide is then showing us a few more aircraft in this exhibition it’s absolutely amazing how many aircraft did Peter Jackson get and some of them and in quite precarious conditions with massive holes in their wings. And then that’s the end of our World War 1 experience but the Omaka Aviation centre has much more to offer and they also have a World War 2 exhibition and this is where we are heading to right now.
After getting some context into the Russian war plane that is hanging in the cafe area of the Omaka Aviation Centre, we’re then heading onto the next exhibition in the next hanger which is called Dangerous Skies and this goes over the World War 2 aircraft.
However, the first thing that we’re seeing is more of a scene rather than the aircraft itself where one of the Kiwi pilot that crash landed into a British Garden Party and joined in the festivities, that’s the Kiwi way, right?
In this hanger and also in the last hanger we were in there were a lot of really rare planes with information panels stating things like “the last engine running plane of its kind” and “one of the last two that can fly” and “the only replica of its kind”, any aviation buff is sure to have an absolute whale of a time with all the rare planes on display.
But as you might have guessed we’re not really aviation buffs but we really do dig the Omaka Aviation Centre because it really is more than just the planes. Of course, the planes are impressive but just the way that they are displayed really makes this place stand out.
So after taking a look at some more really awesome scenes in the Dangerous Skies exhibition we start to learn more about Stalingrad and the Eastern Front in the exhibition.
And one of the really interesting things about this exhibition is to learn about female pilots. We’re learning about the story of a lady called Lydia Lydviack, I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly, which was one of the rare female pilots in the USSR #feminism.
After leaving that massive hanger with all those huge World War 2 scenes we are passing through a small exhibition with more memorabilia about the era and then we are heading toward a massive Stalingrad room.
The Stalingrad room is basically a massive dome theatre with CGI movie about the airstrike on Stalingrad which is probably one of the most famous battles of World War 2 but the staggering number of casualties of the conflict are absolutely amazing and this movie shows it perfectly. It’s a great way to give you a massive impact of numbers and make you understand the toll that such a war takes.
So we just arrived at the aviation heritage centre in Blenheim so I’m gonna put my phone on flight mode. Wheyyyyy.