QuickCheck: Does filmmaker Peter Jackson own more fighter planes than his home country's air force?

A file picture of a Sopwith Camel, one of the aircraft types that are in Jackson's plane collection. – Airwolfhound/Wikimedia Commons

TO MOST people, Peter Jackson is the Oscar-winning director from New Zealand who brought the Lord of the Rings universe from the pages of JRR Tolkien's tomes to the silver screen.

However, to those who watch the skies, Peter Jackson is also known for his large collection of both restored and replica vintage aircraft – specifically both British and German fighters from World War 1.

With that said, it has been claimed over the last few years that he actually has more fighter aircraft than the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). Is this in fact true?



Technically, Jackson has more airworthy fighter aircraft than the RNZAF – even if they have been obsolete for a good 80-100 years and do not have weapons.

According to a video by the Smithsonian Magazine, Jackson has 70 airworthy WW1-era aircraft and they are either original wood-and-canvas fighters designed and built about a century ago or very accurate flying replicas.

In contrast, the RNZAF's aircraft are either designed for maritime surveillance and patrol platforms like the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, transports like the Lockheed C-130H Hercules and Boeing 757 or utility helicopters and trainers.

This is due to cost-cutting measures put into action in 2001 based on an assessment of the needs of New Zealand's military as a whole and the most likely threats it could possibly face.

As for why Jackson has an air force advanced by the standards of a medieval world like Tolkien's Middle Earth? This is all due to his interest in WW1 stemming from his grandfather William John Jackson's military service, as explained in a British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) article.

According to the BFBS, the senior Jackson joined the British Army in 1910, and ultimately earned a Distinguished Conduct Medal aged 23 when he led soldiers to capture an outpost during the fighting for Gallipoli in Turkey.

It was this and his own love for aircraft that led to the collection that the director owns today – something he explained when interviewed by the BFBS.

"When I was 12 my parents took me to the UK on a sort of family trip to meet all the cousins, aunties and uncles and things, so we went to the RAF museum in Hendon and that was the first time I saw real First World War planes in the flesh, and I was pretty obsessed by that stage," he said.

"Because of my day job making films, I ended up with the resources of being able to do this. I don't know how big it is. I keep my eye out, and if there's something interesting, I try to buy it. Some people might say it's got out of control, I'd say it's evolved," added Jackson.

So, a Hollywood filmmaker and his team are living their dreams as magnificent men in their flying machines, and in the process they technically have more fighter aircraft than the nation they live in – New Zealand.







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