Hundreds flock to see American F-16 fighter jets fly over Christchurch

Hundreds of Cantabrians flocked to Christchurch Airport last night to watch two American F-16 fighter jets prepare for the easter show.

The Yanks are heading to Central Otago for the Warbirds Over Wānaka International Airshow this Easter.

The F-16s will fly from Christchurch to Wānaka twice on Saturday and then again on Sunday, only taking them a swift seven minutes each way.

Warbirds Over Wānaka General Manager Ed Taylor said they're thrilled to have these aircraft confirmed.  

"The United States Air Force has been a major supporter of our airshow over the years. Their teams always put on top displays and their personnel on the ground are always great ambassadors for their country," Taylor said.

"The F-16 is such an iconic Warbird and not just because it can reach Mach 2 (2000+ kph). The aircraft first flew in 1974 and is still being manufactured today - 50 years later.  What a way to celebrate your 50th with a 'fast and furious' display at Wānaka."

He said the F-16 is relatively small and light giving it amazing maneuverability which makes them perfect for showing off in front of a big crowd.

Not so small and fast but equally impressive is the huge C-17 Globemaster III which is set to fill the sky above Wānaka during the airshow.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon team is based at Misawa in Japan with the jets being escorted to New Zealand by a KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft, which will provide air-to-air refuelling. Meanwhile, the C-17 Globemaster III team is coming from their base in Hawaii.

The American participation backs up an impressive line-up of modern aircraft already confirmed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.