Public’s first chance to see retired Orion

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 09, 2024 |


The Air Force Museum’s new P-3K2 Orion will be on display for the first time at four special open days during the school holidays.

The RNZAF’s large four-engine reconnaissance, search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare aircraft flew for 54 years during its career and makes for an impressive sight.

The public viewings will coincide with the launch of a new exhibition and short film Orion: The Story of an Extraordinary Aircraft at the museum from 18 – 21 April.

NZ4203 has been reassembled after its epic trip from RNZAF Base Woodbourne last year and the public will have a chance to go out to the hangar and view it up close over the four days, including the weekend, during museum hours.

The museum’s communications manager David King said, “The Orion’s road trip through the Lewis Pass to Christchurch in September last year attracted a huge amount of interest so we wanted to make the aircraft available to view as soon as we could.”

“It was disassembled for the road trip and its wings, engines, propellors and undercarriage are now all back together. Its tail section can’t go on because we do not have a hangar high enough to fit it in,” King said.

“This will be the only chance to see the Orion for the foreseeable future – and the aim is to get as many people as possible along to have a close-up look at this extraordinary aircraft and learn about its incredible history of service.’’

Visiting the Orion will mean a short walk to the historic World War Two-era hangar and a walk around the exterior of NZ4203.

Tours will start after 10am with the final tour departing at about 3pm.

The interior will not be on display because the aircraft is in a conservation state. But its tail components (empennage) and magnetic anomaly detector (MAD boom) or stinger will be there to see.

NZ4203 is the only Orion in the RNZAF’s fleet of six to be conserved. It flew 27,000 hours in its 54-year career and performed extraordinary service for the RNZAF and for New Zealand.  

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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