Warbirds Online attended the 2016 Wings over Illawarra Airshow on the May Day long weekend and despite poor weather forecasts the conditions turned out to be excellent for an Air Show. Several of the aircraft that were booked for the show were unable to attend for various operational and weather related issues but in general the aircraft in attendance was excellent.
From a Warbird perspective the aircraft representation was very good with the TAM Spitfire MkVIII and CAC Boomerang. The Caboolture based CAC CA-18 Mk.21 Mustang A68-110 (marked as A68-769 “Snifter”) VH-MFT at was joined by Jeff Trappett’s example, A68-118, VH-AGJ as well as Jeff’s CAC Sabre Mk.32 A94-352, VH-SBR which unfortunately did not fly due to excess water on the runway and extreme winds at the time of its display slot. Paul Bennet added his Grumman TBM-3 Avenger VH-MML, CAC CA-3 Wirraway VH-WWY A20-81 painted as A20-176 and T28B Trojan VH-FNO. Another unique Warbird was the Queensland based Yak-3U “Steadfast”, VH-YOV powered by a P&W R-2000 Radial as well as an Aero L-39 Albatross VH-IOT from the Hunter Valley. The unusually painted Harvard AT-6G (49-3203) VH-WHF put on a great and colorful performance. All the aircraft flew spirited displays in front of a very large and appreciative crowd.
Illawarra Airport is well known as the home of HARS, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society who are a major participant of the Wings over Illawarra Airshow. The HARS Fleet mounted and excellent display with the Constellation opening the show with a flyover joined by the RAAF Roulettes on each wing tip. One of the HARS Caribous, A4-234, then demonstrated the capabilities of the “Gravel Truck” with impossibly short landings and takeoffs. The Caribou also dropped the Australian Army “Red Berets” parachute team over the airfield on both days. The Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation VH-EAG display was as always a highlight of each day and the sight of the flame pouring out of the exhausts in the early morning light never disappoints for drama.
In the static park the crowd were treated to a magnificent display by HARS with the majority of their aircraft on display including 2 X C47 Bs , 3 X Lockheed Neptunes, Consolidated Catalina, 2 DHC 4 Caribous, 2 DH Vampires, CAC Sabre, GAF Mirage 111O, F111, Grumman Tracker and the rest of the extensive collection. It was a most impressive showcase of the HARS Collection. Of particular interest was the new finish applied to one of HARS C47B’s, RAAF Serial A65-95, an airworthy aircraft, now resplendent in a Genuine WWII RAAF Green and Grey color scheme C-47B-30-DK VH-EAE coded P-KL. It looks magnificent alongside the other flying HARS C47B, A65-94 still in its silver ARDU scheme, a good contrast.
The RAAF contributed the usual stunning F/A18 (A21-15) display on both days and on Sunday the P3C Orion, C17 as well as the Roulettes PC9s.The huge C17, A41-213, was a real crowd favorite with its spectacular handling and awesome display of power.
The Australian Forces also contributed a Blackhawk, MRH 90 Taipan and a MH-60 R Romeo Seahawk.
In the static park the crowd were treated to a magnificent display by HARS with the majority of their aircraft including 2 C47 As , Lockheed Neptune, Consolidated Catalina, 2 DHC 4 Caribous, 2 DH Vampires, CAC Sabre, GAF Mirage 111O, F111, Grumman Tracker and the rest of the extensive collection. It was a most impressive showcase of the HARS Collection.
The Sunday display was very good with more RAAF aircraft and the several more Warbirds attending. The facilities and organization of the Air Show was excellent with plenty of catering and good traffic control.
Warbirds Online will certainly return for the excellent show. Over 20,000 people would have been very pleased with this year’s display.
© John Parker 2016