Get Access To Over 1000 Awesome Vehicle Videos On HAFU's Channel
It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Brett Emeny, a veritable 'warbird' legend in New Zealand. An active pilot until his last couple of weeks, Brett has unfortunately succumbed to complications following recent surgery.
Brett Emeny in his North American T-28 Trojan prior to a display at the Wings Over Wairarapa 2021 airshow in Masterton, New Zealand. Photo Copyright © 2021 Historical Aviation Film Unit
Brett, with throttles in hand, taxis the Catalina PBY-5a on Lake Taupo following one of the aircraft's water landings on the lake. Photo Copyright © 2019 Historical Aviation Film Unit
More recently in the early 2000's, as a number of Yak-52 aerobatic aircraft were imported into the country, Brett decided to become involved in formation flying with a group of other Yak owners, and over the past decade and a half the formation team have flown at just about every airshow in New Zealand, more often than not with Brett as the lead pilot in the group.
Having flown a vast array of other warbirds in New Zealand, including the Harvard, P-51 Mustang, P-40 Kittyhawk, plus the L-29 Delphin jet and its big brother the L-39 Albatros, Brett had built up a huge store of experience and wealth of knowledge that his colleagues, friends, and family will sorely miss.
Brett in ZK-YAK, his distinctive blue Yak-52, preparing for a formation display at Warbirds Over Wanaka. Photo Copyright © 2018 Historical Aviation Film Unit
During the Classic Fighters 2023 airshow held at Omaka (Blenheim, New Zealand) over Easter weekend, Brett was flying as lead for the Yak-52 formation team, and also as part of the T-28 Trojan pair display with Peter Vause. On Saturday afternoon after their display slot, Brett was overheard saying to Peter that "...we can't do much better than that, Pete" -- indicating he thought the pair had flown a good display.
It's Peter's contention that on Sunday, the final day of the show, they did indeed fly an even better display, and it is that routine that's captured on this video below.
This display of Brett's North American T-28 Trojan flying an awesome pairs routine along with the T-28 of Brett's long time aviation friend a 'co-conspirator' Peter Vause, was the last public display performance that Brett made, only a couple of weeks prior to his passing on 3rd May 2023.
Immediately following Brett and Pete's T-28 Trojan pair display, just as I had completed the filming, another highly experienced warbird pilot remarked to me that the display was extremely good, and that for a couple of 'non-military trained pilots', Brett and Peter did an exemplary job with their display. Fine words of praise indeed, and well justified.
As always Brett and Peter flew a tight formation in their two aircraft at Classic Fighters 2023. The pair have been flying together for years, in the Trojans, Yak-52s, and in their respective jet aircraft. Photo Copyright © 2023 Historical Aviation Film Unit
Over the past two decades I have had the privilege of working with, and alongside Brett on many occasions, filming his activities in a number of aircraft, including the Trojan, the Vampire, Yak-52 and Catalina. Each time I found him to be an extremely likeable and good natured bloke, very easy to work with, and very cooperative with the things that I was trying to achieve from a video perspective. It has only been in recent years that I've understood exactly why that was...
Several years ago while we were in Taupo with the Catalina Preservation Society, I was on the tarmac filming the aircraft, while everyone else was in the local aero club having lunch. As I was going about my business, Brett came out and walked toward the aircraft and then slightly deviated to approach me more directly. As he came up to me he said "... I really appreciate what you're doing, you must have filmed just about every Vampire display I've done at airshows, and it's great to have a record of them..."
As it turns out we have filmed many of Brett's displays, but certainly not all of them. I'm very glad that we do have a relatively extensive visual record of his activities over the past two decades (some of which are yet to see the light of day), and I'm more than a little saddened that we'll not get to work together again, and that he himself won't actually get to sit back and enjoy this visual record of his career in his dotage.
However, I'm grateful to have been able to know Brett, and even more so to learn that he not only grasped what it was/is that HAFU have been trying to do over the years (record a visual history of warbird activities and personalities), but that he also appreciated it.
Our sincere condolences go to the Emeny family, and Brett's extensive list of close friends and colleagues in the aviation community.
Brett was an integral part of the New Zealand Yak-52 display team and his presence at future NZ airshows will be missed by many who either knew him, or appreciated the displays he flew, no matter which aircraft he was flying.. Photo Copyright © Historical Aviation Film Unit
An Extra Note From Peter Vause
Formation pilots will appreciate that the accurate flying in that Omaka display, thankfully recorded by HAFU, was down to Brett's superb leading. Sharing the limited, safe power range in those big engines with his wing man, accurately using the energy and rolling in at just the right rate of turn and at just the right time enabled such a tight routine to performed successfully. There is a big hole in the sky to fill without him. Thanks for the lovely tribute, Allan. '73.
Share This Story :
More Stories and Video Clips:
Get Access To Over 1000 Awesome Vehicle Videos On HAFU's Channel
Aircraft Performs Dangerous Stunts By Skimming On Lake Surface
Only One Example of This WW1 Aircraft Exists Anywhere OIn The World
Britains Last V-Bomber Performs The 'Vulcan Howl' At Almost Full Power
There's More Exclusive Content On Historical Machines TV
HMTV is our advert-free streaming video channel which features an awesome array of video and long form documentary material which is not available elsewhere. Sign up for a free trial and enjoy the significant and varied range of material we have on offer...
Please consider subscribing to HMTV, or buy us a drink to support our historical (story and film) preservation endeavours.Comment Form is loading comments...
Copyright © All Rights Reserved — Historical Aviation Film Unit
Template by OS Templates