In association with Classic Wings Magazine


These are fascinating aircraft and combine several factors that have great appeal to many aviation historians and enthusiasts. For admirers of WW-I aircraft this has to be the best looking Great War machines of them all. I think of the Bristol as a truly 'handsome' aircraft.

Whilst there are relatively few WW-I types that become available (just talking replicas of course), like Nieuports, Fokkers, Sopwiths, there are simply NO two-seater WW-I combat aircraft about.  They just don't come up for sale.  Even the trainers like the Curtiss Jenny, Standard J-1 or Avro 504K almost never come up for sale. And then there are the flying qualities, something for which the Bristol is universally regarded.

The Bristol project we have for sale is the last of six flyable replicas built in the late 1970s in the USA for a film project that was never completed as planned. 'A High Road to China' was a rollicking adventure romance written as a novel by Jon Cleary. The film was never made as intended unfortunately, with a much altered version of the story appearing in the early 1980s starring Tom Selleck using a pair of modified Stampe biplanes for the journey to China.

A major feature appeared in Classic Wings Magazine (one of our Classic Aircraft Sales, in-house productions) about our decades long hunt to find them, and the subsequent recovery from 'The Bristol Catacombs' in California, after nearly 40 years in storage. That journey eventually hit pay dirt and the story revealed itself east of Los Angeles in 2017 when we took a team to liberate these and bring them back to our hangar.

The most complete of the five Bristols we rescued went initially to Sonoma, Nthn CA., and more recently went to New York for the Rhinebeck collection. That should be flying again in the first half of 2022.

The other four we shipped to our hangar in NZ. There was quite a lot of time spent just sorting through it all but in essence, we had all four aircraft minus some key parts, most notably the centre-section struts, upper and lower. So the first thing we did was to manufacture four aircraft sets of these in-house.

The completed NZ Warbirds Assoc. Bristol.

The first of the NZ Bristols was refurbished by the restoration shop next door, JEM Aviation. They did a great job for the buyers, the NZ Warbirds Association. That has now been flying happily for a couple of years.

The second aircraft sold went to a guy in Australia who is making some changes including using a Gipsy Queen engine in place of the Ranger. It is being professionally restored over there and should be really impressive once done.

Our resident example is soon to fly as a syndicate operated aircraft at Omaka, NZ. There is still a share available in this one (get in touch for details).

The third Bristol is to be our 'keeper' and wears a strange colour scheme as it starred in a 1981 movie 'Death Hunt'. We elected to retain the colours to keep its 'claim to fame' intact. We just started engine runs and weighed it last week, so hope to be flying soon. I have sold a couple of shares in this to enjoy the aircraft as a group.

Four Bristols lined up on my hangar floor.

So the last aircraft we have remaining is the one nearest the camera in this photo. We have done an assessment on it and it is comprehensively complete but for a few items. Over the past few weeks, we went through the flying and landing wires, which I had not included in the original package as I thought there would not be much of a set left after the other aircraft had been provided for.  It turns out that apart from four tailplane wires, all of the rest of the bespoke-Bristol wires are there in stainless steel, about 72 wires of around $25K value, so that was definitely a significant bonus to the package.

The Ranger engines for these were overhauled together at the time the Bristols were built. They were converted to run upright at the time. These were sent to the JEM Aviation engine shop where the guys pulled these down (the two for the completed aircraft) to inspect and refresh the overhauls. They were found to be in excellent condition.

Principal things that need to be sourced are the interplane struts, axle, rear seat, Scarff ring, new seat belts, flat cowlings, propeller, hub, magnetos. Whoever owns this aircraft will need to decide for themselves if they want to install things like radio, TXP, starter, generator, brakes, machine gun.

Original Bristol Fighters look just like these except for the RR Falcon engine and larger propeller but on the rare occasions those sell, the price approaches the US1M arena, so when one of these very convincing and manageable replicas changes hands in flying condition, a price more like US$250K can be expected.

This can be packed for shipment to anywhere in the world as required, or can be finished here at Omaka to your colour scheme (we can offer some guidance there).

No items found.


  • Wingspan: 11.97 m (39 ft 3 in)
  • Length: 7.915 m (25 ft 11½ in)
  • Height: 2.94 m (9 ft 7 ¾ in)
  • Wing area: 37.68 m² (405.6 sq ft)
  • Max speed at 3,048 m (10,000 ft): 182 km/h (113 mph)
  • Max speed at 4,572 m (15,000 ft): 169 km/h (105 mph)
  • Climb to 1,980 m (6,500 ft): 6 mins 50 secs
  • Climb to 4,572 m (15,000 ft): 21 mins 20 secs
  • Service ceiling: 5,486 m (18,000 ft)
  • Empty weight: 877 kg (1,934 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 1,292 kg (2,848 lb)