75 Years of military aviation history celebrated

14 March 2012

A unique stamp collection, a specially minted silver coin, and an official history will be released as part of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 75th anniversary celebrations at Parliament tonight.

The special event will celebrate 75 years since the Royal New Zealand Air Force was formed as a separate arm of New Zealand’s military forces. From 1 April 1937, it’s been an organisation steeped in tradition and heritage.

“Tonight is a celebration of 75 years of New Zealand’s military aviation history from the early 20th Century and the birth of air power, through the world wars and the formation of an independent Royal New Zealand Air Force,” said the Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal, Peter Stockwell.

Throughout its history the RNZAF has contributed to the maintenance of peace, either through allied contributions in wartime or to peacekeeping throughout the world. 

“His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force has provided a personal video message acknowledging the talent and professionalism of those serving in the RNZAF and pays tribute to recent responses to natural disasters both in New Zealand and overseas.

“To celebrate this significant milestone a range of events and activities are taking place across New Zealand,” said Air Vice-Marshal Stockwell.

New Zealand Post has developed a special stamp issue portraying the range of services and aircraft throughout the years, from Tiger Moths to the latest NH90 helicopters. They feature air operations in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, to South East Asia and the Antarctic, as well as many peacekeeping and humanitarian relief efforts.

There is also a commemorative coin that features the image of a pilot and several Skyhawks flying in a ‘missing man’ formation. It is the only New Zealand legal tender coin officially authorized to commemorate 75 years of military operations in New Zealand. It is a limited edition, pure silver, one ounce coin.

A book covering the RNZAF’s history was commissioned to mark the anniversary. The book Fighting Spirit, 75 Years of the RNZAF, written by author Margaret McClure, chronicles the spirit, professionalism and resilience of all those who have served with the RNZAF. The book details the birth, formation and transformation of the Air Force into the force it is today.

A spectacular Air Show will take place on 31 March at Base Ohakea. Military and civilian aircraft from New Zealand and around the world will join the Royal New Zealand Air Force to celebrate the 75th Anniversary.


For further information contact Defence Communications Group, Ally Clelland on 021 569 130

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This page was last reviewed on 14 March 2012.