Scholarship to boost Warbird movement

Mr Butcher inside the Dominie is joined by Lachlan Falconer (right), who is originally from Gore. Mr Falconer flew a DH83 Fox Moth in a classic aircraft formation led by Mr Butcher. PHOTO: Anja Sachsenheimer

Warbirds over Wanaka scholarship recipient Adam Butcher, of Te Anau, says he's been enjoying the journey, not just the destination, of training to fly World War II fighter aircraft.

When he was a child, Mr Butcher eagerly followed the newly launched Warbirds over Wanaka airshow as he fed his passion for aviation. Now having flown in the event's 30th instalment earlier this month, Mr Butcher's own ties to the show continue to grow.

Last spring Mr Butcher was one of two pilots to receive a $5000 scholarship from the airshow, which he said was intended to help promising young pilots finance some of the training hours of required to fly fighter aircraft from WWII.

"The idea of the scholarship is to help people that are already interested in being a part of the Warbird movement. It's helping them step up to a different level within the organisation."

Mr Butcher has been training on the Harvard aircraft, and he said 11 Harvard aircraft flew in formation at this year's show. 

"The step up to the Harvard is the progression through experience levels of being able to do more in the future."

At the airshow Mr Butcher also led a classic formation of nine Golden Age aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s in a De Havilland Dominie aircraft he said had attended every Warbirds airshow.

Fellow Southlanders Lachlan Falconer and John Baynes, both originally from Gore, joined Mr Butcher in the classic formation, having flown a DH83 Fox Moth and DH82 Tiger Moth, respectively.

Adam Butcher inside the Dominie he flew at this year's Warbirds over Wanaka airshow. PHOTO: Dave Homewood

His training also continues through his own purchase of a Pitts Special last December 17 — the same day the Wright brothers took their historic first sustained flight of a powered aircraft in 1903.

Mr Butcher said he bought the plane for a couple of reasons, but mainly it was to continue with the development he said the Warbirds over Wanaka team needed of him. 

"The scholarship was in order to be able to do the Harvard rating. What they'd like to see now is more formation aerobatics and low-level display."

While not a Warbird itself, the Pitts was a fast, older aeroplane that had similar handling characteristics that could prepare him for different types of Warbirds, he said.

The Pitts currently was hangared in Mandeville, but in time Mr Butcher said he'd like to move it to Te Anau.

"What I'd like to do is continue building a collection of older-type aircraft... This is sort of number one of being able to bring together a collection that represent adventure-type flying and old classic, vintage Warbird-type aircraft."

He said he was incredibly grateful for the opportunity the Warbirds scholarship offered him, and now he felt it was his responsibility to match that contribution and keep momentum going.

"It's like anything, a person gives you a little start, and then it's up to you to continue it. So having purchased a Pitts gives, I hope, gives them confidence that they've given the scholarship to the right person and shown them I'm committed to following through, but also not expecting more in time," he said. 

"It's now time to put myself on the line."


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