The children on the Air Force Museum’s school holiday programme get a special insight into the RNZAF’s A109 helicopter from helicopter loadmaster, Petty Officer Rick Gurnell. The helicopter and crew were visiting from RNZAF Base Ohakea in the Manawatu.

Thousands at museum for Kidsfest

by Mike Isle

Helicopters were the high-flying favourite of the day when the Air Force Museum of New Zealand put theirs on display for this year’s Kidsfest.

Around 3,700 people, most of them in family groups flocked to the museum for the free event.

“It was fantastic to see the museum buzzing with so many people having a wonderful time engaging with aviation,” said the museum’s communications manager Michelle Sim.

The museum went all-out, particularly for the children, to make the event a success.

It rolled-out all its helicopters for a rare display together, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force even flew in a three-tonne A109 chopper from its base at Ohakea, especially for the event.

Other Defence Force personnel travelled from the RNZAF base in Woodburne.

Hundreds of children and their caregivers queued for the chance to sit in the helicopters and try on gear supplied by Air Force and Navy personnel in attendance.

For a sky-high experience, helicopter flights by Christchurch Helicopters proved to be a popular attraction throughout, as did the drone flying demonstrations by Christchurch-based digital photographers COBi Digital.

Michelle Sim said the museum staff and Defence Force personnel had worked hard to make the day special for Kidsfest kids. As well as the static displays, flights and demonstrations, there was face-painting and a giant helicopter-themed treasure hunt through the museum.

More than 500 kids entered the hunt with each of them going into a draw to win a flight with Christchurch Helicopters, with the bonus of the flight being piloted by Richie McCaw.

The competition was won by Bekah Taylor of Belfast.

Sim said the day was magical for all involved.

“We are very grateful to our supporters for helping make the day such a success,” she said.