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AIR FORCE RED CHECKERS TO FLY OVER DUNEDIN

The Air Force Red Checkers team will perform an aerobatic display over Dunedin on Wednesday 4 April as part its national tour to celebrate 75 years of the RNZAF.

This display recognises Dunedin’s history with the RNZAF. Following approval of the pilot training scheme in April 1939, Taieri was one of the civilian aerodromes chosen for a flying training school. Additional acres were acquired for the flying field to provide runways up to 1500 yards. Nineteen buildings were erected including a double timber hangar. No.1 Elementary Flying Training School was formed on 20 October 1939. By the end of 1939 additional accommodation blocks were being constructed for up to 500 trainee pilots.

During 1940 and 1941 aircraft from Wigram and No. 3 General Reconnaissance Squadron were temporarily based at Taieri to carry out coastal patrols and to escort convoys to and from Port Chalmers.

RNZAF Station Taieri closed on 30 September 1945 and the aerodrome reverted to civilian control. RNZAF’s interests were reduced to caretaker status and the storage of aircraft surplus to requirements and maintenance of selected ground equipment.

In 1948 with the reformation of the Territorial Air Force (TAF), Taieri became responsible for the support of No.4 (TAF) Squadron. The Squadron initially used Harvards, with Mustangs joining the squadron in 1951. Taieri was reformed as an independent Station on 1 February 1950 to provide recruit training for Compulsory Military Trainees (CMT) and ab initio flying training for selected CMT aircrew entrants. Following the introduction of integrated training for CMT and regular recruits an Initial Training School (ITS) was formed in August 1951. This was later replaced by a Flight Grading School.

In August 1955, the use of Tiger Moths for Flight Grading ceased, and in November 1955, the ITS moved to Wigram, and Taieri reverted to a support facility for the TAF. In early 1956 the Mustangs were withdrawn from RNZAF service and in July 1957 the Territorial Air Force was disbanded. Taieri was reduced to a ‘care and maintenance’ station. Over the next few years the stored aircraft were disposed of and Taieri became purely a civilian airfield.

What: Red Checkers aerobatic display (weather permitting)

Where: Dunedin

When: Wednesday 4 April at approximately 1700 (5.00pm)

Visit www.airforce.mil.nz and click on ‘What’s On’ for the Red Checkers flying schedule in 2012.

ENDS

For media enquires contact Todd O'Hara, Defence Communications Group on 021 186 4111

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