The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is located at the Northern Tip of the Southern Island near Blenheim. This aircraft heritage centre is particular because it focuses on First World War aircraft. The idea of it kicked off towards the end of the 1990s when a number of aeroplane enthusiasts took two trainers built by China to set off the heritage centre.
The idea was conceptualised by the Marlborough Warbirds Association and more and more aircraft were brought in to build up the collection. Before long, it became clear that the idea had outgrown itself and that a fully developed aviation heritage park could be set up on the site.
Visitors soon began to flock to the site to see the collection of aircraft and this provided enough impetus for the local authorities to come up with the idea of setting up a business aviation centre nearby, which allowed tourism and business to stimulate growth.
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is currently expanding and there are plans to build another massive hangar to house more static aircraft.
Every other year, flying replicas of World War I fighter and bomber aircraft simulate dog-fights over the heritage park. The moves these biplane and triplane aircraft can pull off have to be seen to be believed and it is a wonder that the airframes, which are largely made up of fabric, paper, wood and steel strings can stand up the G-Force that the tight turns and loops generate.
It is part of the longer running Knights of the Sky Exhibition which features static and flying aircraft. The heritage museum has one of the largest World War One collections in the world.
Some of the aircraft included in the collection are the famous Fokker Triplane as flown by the Red Baron, a Fokker Eindekker, a pusher-prop Airco DH2 and a French Nieuport 24 among many others. The whole collection features some 20 aircraft.