Virtual Hangar Tour
NOTE: Visiting the Biggin Hill Hangar at RNZAF Ohakea - Organised groups who may wish to visit the Biggin Hill hangar at Ohakea where the Spitfire is now located, should in the first instance write to: 'Spitfire Visit Request', Commanding Officer, Operational Support Wing, RNZAF Base Ohakea, Private Bag 11033, Palmerston North. Such access is at the operational discretion of the RNZAF and group numbers are limited.
Our aircraft are
based at RNZAF Ohakea which is the home to the Airtrainers of the Pilot
Training Squadron and Central Flying School, the Beech KingAirs of 42
Squadron and the Iroquois and Sioux helicopters of 3 Squadron (as well as
the first of the newly arrived Augusta 109 helicopters) and the RNZAF
Historic Flight. The Base is also home to a number of trade and technical
Ohakea has two sealed runways - 2,500 metre 09/27 and 2,100 metre 15/33. As well the parallel taxiway Bravo is used as a runway by the Airtrainers. There is also a 575m grass vector 09/27 and the large "New Field" grass area south of the 09/27 vector which is used for helicopter training and provides a large area for aircraft such as the Harvard (this area is just under Harvard 37's tail in the photo). This area is fittingly reminiscent of the large grass airfields used by Spitfires during the Second World War.
The Biggin Hill Historic Aircraft Centre is located within the confines of Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea between Sanson and Bulls on State Highway 1 about two hours north of Wellington by car. The hangar is visible from the highway as it is currently the closest building on base to the highway. Although casual visits are not possible, organized groups can now visit subject to prior arrangement via the details at the top of this page.
RNZAF Base Ohakea was established as a new RNZAF Base in 1937 and construction of the large hangars began in 1938, with 300 men employed in the construction of the two large concrete hangars. The location of Ohakea was chosen to take advantage of the prevailing winds (Ohakea in Maori means "place of the wind").
The two distinctive arched concrete hangars at Ohakea (used by 42 Squadron and 3 Squadron nowadays) are each 24.6 metres high, 51 metres long and each section of their sliding doors weighs 30 tons. At the time the hangars cost £76,750 each to build and they were completed in 1939.
It is believed that the layout of the original buildings at Ohakea was designed to look like an aircraft in flight with the control tower being the "nose" and the four main hangars being the "wings"
|The hangar has
a dedicated tow way for the aircraft to access the new North East Quadrant
apron by the new helicopter hangars. The 680m2 building has an apron area
of 555m2. The main hangar doors are 5 metres high and provide a clear
opening span of 26 metres.
The hangar itself is 30 metres wide and 20 metres deep and has attached rooms of 80m2. The building has been constructed to allow future expansion in depth. Construction is steel framing/Coloursteel covering throughout. The hangar apron has three reinforced tie down points to allow engine runs to be conducted in place as well as doubling as earthing points for re fuelling.
|The hangar now has its own distinctive signage
visible from the main highway. Airbrushed by Feilding artist Tony Walton
from an original air to air photo by Gavin Conroy
|The hangar has a room set aside for display
items - although still a work in progress, there are models and items of
memorabilia on display as well as paintings featuring Spitfires, 485
Squadron and others. The display items will be added to in the next few
|Spitfire PV270 in its position in the hangar. Our Spitfire celebrated two years flying at Ohakea on March 18th 2011.|
|Attention was paid to the lighting in the hangar to provide daylight visibility at night as well as spotlights to highlight areas such as the Spitfire cockpit.|
|Harvard NZ1037 in its position in the hangar. Harvard 37 is back at Ohakea after an absence of 34 years. It has an uninterrupted flying history since 1942.|
|Elevated views of Spitfire PV270 and Harvard NZ1037|
|Our Grumman Cheetah was the original demonstrator used by Pacific Aerospace to display the then new aircraft type around New Zealand, hence its distinctive paintwork. Originally powered by a 150hp Lycoming, its has been uprated to 160hp.|
|All three aircraft in place in the hangar. The polycarbonate clear panels on each side of the hangar are designed to provide natural lighting in the hangar as well as screening out UV at the same time to protect the aircraft.|
|The rear wall of the hangar has a number of information panels and large photographs are on the side wall of the hangar. The information panels will extend around the side wall of the hangar in the future. These now include some display materials lent by the Trustees of the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum at Wanaka which was closed some months ago.|