Knights Of The Sky Exhibition - Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre Classic Fighters Airshow 2017
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About Us

Classic Wings was created in 1994 as the culmination of many years of wanting to see a vintage/warbird magazine that was created for owners, restorers, pilots as well as enthusiasts of these machines, by people who are themselves participants at all levels of these activities.

The Classic Wings team is comprised of people with all of these involvements. Furthermore, a major quest for us has been to help readers who would like to make the move 'from 'spectator to participant'.  We have developed a range of initiatives to meet this objective and are pleased to be able to boast numerous owners/operators and restorers of vintage or warbird aircraft who had never believed they could become actively involved in vintage aviation before we showed them the way. This is a win-win growth strategy for heritage aviation - great for the individual, great for those still preferring to remain spectators (as they have more to see) and great for the movement as a whole for it is growth that is most needed to keep things exciting and alive in this fascinating arena!

It was also the goal from the beginning to produce a magazine of very high print and paper quality, and one which focusses on the amazing range of positive initiatives taking place around the world to bring heritage aircraft of all types back to airworthiness, sometimes even from complete extinction!


Graham Orphan - Publisher / Editor

Graham Orphan - Publisher/Editor Classic Wings MagazineGraham had completed dozens of plastic scale and flying models before he started to build a Cayley-style biplane hang glider when he was a child growing up in Adelaide, South Australia. After a move to Brisbane at age 11, and many more models, a 'Hang Loose' 28 ft wingspan biplane glider was completed (at age 15) but not flown due to parental restrictions. At age 17, Graham and good friend Pete Biddle purchased a derelict Tiger Moth in Northern Qld, from funds generated by working in shops and mowing lawns. They railed the wreck over 1,000 miles to Brisbane during their school holidays. The following year,with good friends Pat Harrington and Peter Biddle (again), Graham co-founded the Qld Vintage Aeroplane Group which still thrives today. The Tiger Moth restoration was completed after eight years during which both Graham and Pete had learnt to fly, had bought a flyable Auster, and had built a 2,300 ft airstrip and a 40' x 45' hangar on the Orphan family farm.

Graham subsequently married Jane, moved to Sydney and worked there for three years during which he built a Grunau Baby glider on contract to friends, and restored another Tiger Moth to an advanced state before moving to New Zealand for an intended one year stay.  That stay was delayed and so another Tiger project was undertaken, being completed in 1998. During this time, Graham became deeply involved with the local aviation community at Omaka, establishing the Marlborough Warbirds Assoc. and a syndicate to jointly operate a Nanchang CJ-6a. A Harvard was successfully bid for from the South African Air Force and this also formed the basis of a syndicate, this time in Christchurch.

In the middle of all this activity, Graham and wife Jane decided to create 'Classic Wings Downunder' magazine and this was launched over Easter 1994. The magazine in turn helped to publicise some of the Omaka activities, most notably fly-ins that grew to become the Classic Fighters Airshow. The first CF event took place in 2001 and the event has run biennially ever since, developing into a major event on the world airshow calendar and hailed for its uniqueness and innovation. Graham has served in numerous roles since the first show, always including manning the P.A. system for the event. For the 2011 event, Graham served as Chairman of the Organising Committee. Also stemming from Omaka based activities in the mid-1990's, was the New Zealand Aviation Museum Trust which worked hard to develop an aviation display for Omaka. This opened as the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in December 2006. Remaining as a Trustee of this organisation, it has actually been wife Jane who has been in the driving seat as CEO since 2006.

Graham's own aircraft passions have seen him own numerous aircraft over many years and he and Jane currently operate an Aeronca Champ, a Fleet 16B, a replica Nieuport 11 and a 450hp Stearman three-seater which serves as a joyflight platform. The Classic Wings hangar is also home to some significant project aircraft including Lincoln Ellsworth's famous Polar exploring Aeronca 'K'; a Fairchild F-24W previously owned by British F-1 race car champion Mike Hawthorn and a former RAAF P-40K-10 Kittyhawk that is known to have achieved at least one aerial victory (against a Betty bomber) in the war in the Pacific. Clearly, more fun times are planned in the months and years ahead in the CW hangar!


Dave McDonald - Deputy Editor

Dave McDonald - Deputy Editor Classic Wings MagazineOriginally from Timaru, N.Z., Dave has travelled the world visiting airshows, museums and collections, especially those with a healthy representation of WW-II era Luftwaffe aircraft. Dave is known for his huge wealth of knowledge on this subject, among others, and is well connected with Luftwaffe aircraft owners, restorers and historians the world over. Dave has been with the magazine for many years, working his way up to the Deputy Editor position, and encompassing many other roles within the organisation.

Whilst Dave is usually found in his office upstairs at the CW hangar, he is just as happy to be called downstairs to assist on any of the aircraft being restored in the hangar and likewise, is happy to be airborne when there is a seat available in a vintage or warbird aircraft. He is also just as happy researching or networking to support a restoration project, as he is sourcing information for a story in the magazine. Like the rest of the team, Dave puts a considerable amount of time and effort into supporting the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and the Classic Fighters Airshow. He has undertaken significant research and writing for the aircraft displays at the AHC and helps produce the highly prized souvenir catalogue for the Classic Fighters Airshow. 


James Orphan - Graphic Design / Photographic

James Orphan - Graphic Design/Photographic Classic Wings MagazineWith formal training in film & TV as his major at Canterbury University, Christchurch, James went on after graduation to conduct further training in the specialist area of post-production work. This has been seen by all who have enjoyed the highly acclaimed 2009 & 2011 Classic Fighters Official DVDs. James' work with Classic Wings magazine covers a range of areas including photographic enhancement, ensuring we get the very best results from the photographs we feature, as well as developing very creative artwork for adverts and promotions, many of which have appeared in the magazine. James designed our new website which was upgraded considerably during 2012. James was also responsible for the websites for the Omaka AHC and the Classic Fighters airshow and the common elements that link these sites are clearly visible and are no accident. James is also a student pilot and has his own 1928 Pietenpol Aircamper under construction in the Classic Wings hangar.


Jane Orphan - Layout / Designer

Jane Orphan - Layout/Designer Classic Wings MagazineCo-founder of Classic Wings magazine, Jane has worked in numerous other areas of aviation including heading up the Marlborough Aviation Industry Cluster as well as serving as a founding Trustee of the NZ Aviation Museum Trust. She resigned as Trustee in 2006 in order to take up the full-time position of CEO of the Museum, which was about to open its doors as the internationally-acclaimed Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre.

Jane's role as CEO of the Omaka AHC has meant that she has had to step back from most of her roles at Classic Wings magazine with the exception of the layout & design portfolio which she undertakes mostly in the evenings.

Jane has a broad knowledge of WW-I aviation history after studying the subject for many years, and has visited many of the world's important aviation museums as well as significant WW-I sites in France and Belgium.

She has also been deeply involved in establishing the very successful Classic Fighters Airshows starting with the first in 2001, and continues to play a pivotal role in the running of the event. With husband/Editor Graham, she co-owns a variety of heritage type aircraft based at Omaka. 


Gavin Conroy - Photographer

Gavin Conroy - Photographer, Classic Wings MagazineSome of the most striking images to have appeared in Classic Wings magazine have been taken by Gavin Conroy whose reputation for aerial photography has become known worldwide. Born and raised in Blenheim, Gavin was one of those youngster who, as soon as he was old enough, would ride his bicycle to Omaka Aerodrome to commence his flying lessons. He eventually completed his PPL and along the way, developed an interest in aerial photography, especially within the context of heritage aviation for which he has always had a great passion. This remains a part time pursuit as Gavin is employed as general manager of a major retail operation in Marlborough. Once again, like the rest of the team both part time and full-time, Gavin is a huge supporter of the Omaka AHC and the Classic Fighters Airshow, providing imagery for promotional materials and for the souvenir programme, as well as creating a large format calendar every year as a fund raiser for the AHC. 


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