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Saturday, August 8, 2020

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Flying Site

This week's Aviation Feature

‘Barn Finds’, Mosquito, P-51 & Others, The Aviation Equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave

Credit: Graham Orphan
Credit: Graham Orphan

The John Smith Collection, the aviation equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave.

We are excited and honoured to announce that the family of deceased aviation collector, John Smith have appointed the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (OAHC) to work with them as guardians of his remarkable collection, to preserve and publicly display these hero aircraft to New Zealand and the world.

The John Smith collection had its beginnings in the 1950’s when as a young man he witnessed wholesale scrapping of warbirds around the world and even in his own backyard.

“We estimated it would take about three years to tidy everything up and clear it out, and that still could be the case.”.Credit: LUZ ZUNIGA/STUFF
“We estimated it would take about three years to tidy everything up and clear it out, and that still could be the case.”.Credit: LUZ ZUNIGA/STUFF

John lived in Mapua and was aware that over the hill in Marlborough, historic warplanes such as Mustangs, Mosquitos and Hudsons were being broken up.

He managed to save several key aircraft and stored them in a shed on his Mapua property, where they remained as untouched, and for the most part unseen, records of NZ aviation history.

Over the decades, word of the Kiwi recluse with his rare warbird collection reached around the world. Collectors travelled from across the planet to try to purchase his aeroplanes but left empty handed.

Credit: Graham Orphan
Credit: Graham Orphan

John’s shed was the aviation equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave, fuselages lined up parallel to one another like sardines, symmetrically arranged either side of a fully assembled Mosquito.

“Many of us have seen restored combat aircraft from WW2, albeit in small numbers, however these aircraft were the ‘real deal’, carrying the original paint they wore when parked under the palm trees on some Pacific atoll, being rearmed before going back to battle”, says OAHC board member Graham Orphan.

George Smith, 88, with the P-51 from his brother’s collection. It is hoped it can be restored to fly again. Credit: LUZ ZUNIGA/STUFF
George Smith, 88, with the P-51 from his brother’s collection. It is hoped it can be restored to fly again. Credit: LUZ ZUNIGA/STUFF

The Smith aircraft destined for display at OAHC include a complete de Havilland Mosquito, John’s own original Tiger Moth and New Zealand’s most famous P-40, ‘Gloria Lyons’.

They will join the Lockheed Hudson, formerly gifted by John to Bill Reid, also on display at Omaka.

Conservation work has commenced on the P-40 and the next milestone is the disassembling of the Mosquito and transporting it from Mapua to Omaka.

The Mosquito in the 1950s. Credit: SMITH FAMILY
The Mosquito in the 1950s. Credit: SMITH FAMILY

Given the fragility and historical significance of the fuselage it requires specialised expertise and transportation. Future fundraising efforts including any profits from the Yealands Classic Fighters Air Show will be funnelled into this significant project and any donations or offers of sponsorship in kind will be gratefully accepted.

About Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Established to provide a world-class destination for the appreciation of historic aircraft, the Omaka AHC opened in 2006 with the Knights of the Sky exhibition, featuring Sir Peter Jackson’s extensive Great War collection of aircraft and rare memorabilia.

The calibre of the displays, enhanced by Weta Workshop’s mannequins and sets produced by WingNut Films, launched the Centre to international acclaim. Dangerous Skies, the WWII exhibition opened in 2016 and explores the stories of both male and female aviators.

Another Article From Us: Hero Pilot’s Book Enthralled the Country But Died Without Anyone his Knowing His Real Name

Iconic warbirds are on display including a flyable Spitfire Mk.14 and the Battle for Stalingrad comes to life in an experience which is equally informative, entertaining and heartbreaking.

To learn more visit or call us at +64 3 579 1305

Image: The late John Smith’s Shed, an aviators’ treasure trove including a fully assembled Mosquito.
Photographer: Graham Orphan

Kind regards,

Rachael Brown
Marketing Manager

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
+64 3 579 1305

Friday, November 1, 2019

Selected Links


Cars Tanks and Planes of WWII


Arnprior RC Club - Arnprior Ontario
Balsa Beavers — Toronto, Ontario
Burlington Radio Control Modelers — Burlington, Ontario
Cambrian RC Flyers — Sudbury, Ontario
Chatham Aeronauts — Chatham, Ontario
Cornwall Aero Modellers — Cornwall, Ontario
Edenvale Flyers — Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Electric Model Flyers of Southern Ontario (EMFSO) — Toronto, Ontario
Flying Tigers R/C Club — Hamilton, Ontario
Forest City Flyers — London, Ontario
Forest Lakeside Flyers Inc. — Soutwest Zone, Ontario
Guelph Gremlins — Guelph, Ontario
Humber Valley Radio Control Flyers, Inc. (HVRCF) — Toronto, Ontario
Kincardine Cloudbusters RCMFC — Kincardine, Ontario
Kingston Radio Control Modelers — Kingston, Ontario 
London Model Aircraft Club — London, Ontario  
Mississauga Model Flying Club — Mississauga, Ontario
Niagara Region Model Flying Club — St Catharines, Ontario
Nipissing Miniature Aircraft Club (NIPMAC) — Nipissing, Ontario
North American Propulsion and Aerospace Society (NAPAS) — Gormley, Ontario
North of Superior Flyers — Thunder Bay, Ontario
Oakville Model Flying Club — Oakville, Ontario
Ottawa Region Electric Organisation — Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa Remote Control Club — Ottawa, Ontario
Peterborough Radio Control Model Flying Club Inc. — Peterborough, Ontario
Port Perry Float Flyers — Port Perry, Ontario
Radio Control Flying Club of Toronto (RCFCT) — Toronto, Ontario
Richmond Hill Model Airplane Club — Richmond Hill, Ontario
Southern RC Flyers — Leamington, Ontario
Stetson Flyers — Ottawa, Ontario
Stoney Creek Hawks — Hamilton, Ontario
Sun Parlour R/C Flyers — Windsor, Ontario
Temiskaming and Region Model Aircraft Club (TARMAC) — New Liskeard, Ontario
Whitby Aero Modellers — Whitby, Ontario

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)
British Model Flying Association (BMFA)
Canadian Association of Rocketry (CAR)
International Miniature Aerobatics Club (IMAC)
International Miniature Aircraft Association (IMAA)
International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association IRCHA
Model Aeronautical Association of Australia (MAAA)
Model Aeronautics Council of Ireland (MACI)
New Zealand Model Aeronautical Association, Inc. (NZMAA)
Portuguese Aeromodelling Federation (FPAm)
Royal Dutch Aeronautical Association
Society of Antique Modelers (SAM)
Swedish Model-Flyers Federation (SMFF)
Trinidad and Tobago Model Aircraft Club (TTMAC)