2017 Event Review

RNZAF Air Tattoo February 25 and 26, 2017
Location: RNZAF Base Ohakea, New Zealand
Admission: Adult: $35.00, Child 5-16: $10.00 under 5 free
Parking: Free on-site
Rating out of 10: 9
Visitors to the RNZAF Air Tattoo

Visitors to the RNZAF Air Tattoo

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has a long history and traces its roots back to the early 1920s when on 14th June 1923 the New Zealand Permanent Air Force, made up of elements and a few persons who had served with the (British) Royal Air Force, was formed as part of the New Zealand Army. In 1934 the New Zealand Permanent Air Force was renamed as the Royal New Zealand Air Force but it was still part of the Army. Another three years were to pass before the RNZAF became an independent service..


This year (2017) saw the 80th Anniversary of the RNZAF as an independent service and the RNZAF organised an air tattoo to commemorate the occasion. The event brought a wide array of aircraft to entertain the crowd in a thrilling airshow, while showcasing the capability, personnel and skills of the RNZAF.

The new 5-ship RNZAF Black Falcons aerobatics team, flying the Beech T-6, made their debut during the show. Later on, they formed up with four more T-6s to fly a ‘diamond nine’ formation.

During the air tattoo it was noted that some of the older warbirds (e.g. Harvard NZ1015, Avenger NZ2518 and Spitfire PV270/AL) had (British) RAF roundels. The now familiar Kiwi Roundel of the RNZAF was only adopted at the end of the 1960s. Until then RNZAF aircraft flew with (British) RAF roundels. Only the NZ prefix to the aircraft’s serial number denoted the nationality although symbols closely associated with New Zealand such as the fern, kiwi, national flag or even the map outline of the country, appeared on RNZAF aircraft to emphasise their nationality and distinguish them from the British machines.

The RNZAF is now a predominately turbo-prop/helo force and the jet noise during the event was provided by the RAAF F-18s and the USAF F-16. This was counterbalanced by the flypasts and displays of the 'old-timers' such as the Spitfire, Avenger, Harvard and Devon. The polished displays by the RNZAF assets ensured that the well organised RNZAF Air Tattoo 2017 was a thrilling show.


The military aircraft involved in the show hailed from:

RNZAF: Boeing 757-200 No. 40 Squadron RNZAF Base Auckland P-3K2 Orion No. 5 Squadron C-130 Hercules No. 40 Squadron NH90 No. 3 Squadron RNZAF Base Ohakea A109 Light Utility Helicopter No. 3 Squadron Beech King Air B200 No. 42 Squadron T-6C Texan II No. 14 Squadron & Central Flying School RNZ Navy SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite No. 6 Squadron RNZAF Base Auckland

Royal Australian Air Force: F/A-18A Hornet No. 3 Squadron RAAF Base Williamtown F/A-18B Hornet No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit RAAF Base Williamtown C-17 No. 36 Squadron RAAF Base Amberley

Royal Air Force: A400M Atlas 70 Squadron RAF Brize-Norton

United States Air Force: F-16 Fighting Falcons 14th Fighter Squadron Misawa, Japan USAF C17 Globemaster III 535th Airlift Squadron Hickam AFB, Hawaii KC-135 Stratotanker 909th Air Refuelling Squadron Kadena AFB, Japan

French Armed Forces: CASA CN235 Détachement Air 376 Nouméa, New Caledonia

Republic of Singapore Air Force: C-130H Hercules 122nd Transport Squadron Paya Lebar AB F-15SG Strike Eagles 149th Fighter-Bomber Squadron

Japan Air Self-Defense Force: KC-767J 404 Hikotai (Squadron) Komaki AFB

Royal Canadian Air Force: CC-130J Hercules 436th Transport Squadron CFB Trenton EF2000

Additionally there was a number of historic and civilian aircraft such as:

Catalina - Catalina Group of New Zealand
Harvard x 3 - RNZAF Historic Flight, Brendon Deere’s ‘Biggin Hill’ Historic Aircraft Centre, NZ Warbirds Association

Spitfire Mk IX and TBM-3E Avenger - ITL Aviation Limited
DH 104 Devon - Mitford Phillip Brereton
DH 112 Venom - Wanganui Sea and Air Charters

DC-3 - NZ Warbirds Association
Air Tourer - Murray David Shaw
BK177 - Palmerston North Rescue
Bell 47G - RNZAF Historic Flight
Aermacchi MB-339 - Sport and Vintage Aviation Society of Masterton
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner - Air New Zealand

Report and photography by TonySeychell for

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