MACKAY AIRSHOW 2016 REPORT

DUAN reporter Christian Smith reports on his visit to the recent Mechanos Wings and Wheels Airshow held at Mackay Airport on 14th August 2016 – the first airshow staged in over 15 years in Mackay. The long interval ensured that the event would have a high level of interest and would attract a large crowd.

A broad mix of aviation was on show with the primary display acts from Paul Bennett Airshows, performing stunts and handling displays using the fleet of Wolf Pitts Pro, Yak-52, T-28 Trojan and the Grumman Avenger.

Mechanos was also designed to showcase the local aviation scene. A wide range of aircraft, including DHC Beaver, Gippsland Airvan, Tiger Moth, Lancair, Cessnas, RVs, RA-Aus, RACQ Bell 412 rescue helicopter and Robinson R22 helicopters providing scenic joy-flights were all present. These aircraft and associated static displays gave the general public a good insight to the diversity of types and aviation activities available.

Hopefully Mackay won’t have to wait another 15 years for the next airshow, as this great event proved that the city loves its aviation.

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The Paul Bennet Airshow team was busy across the day utilising their fleet.

The T-28B Trojan – VH-FNO. This colourful and popular 1940’s -era trainer design with a top speed of 343kt (552km/hr) is powered by a 1,425hp Wright R.1820 Cyclone radial engine. It was formerly a resident of Mareeba, before briefly moving to Western Australia and then back to Newcastle with Paul Bennett’s collection. The fast and low passes really got the crowd’s attention, an airshow act they don’t always get to witness.

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The TBM Avenger – VH-MML. This big and sturdy veteran of the WW2 Pacific theatre would have felt somewhat at home in tropical Mackay, being nearby to many famous aviation sea battles of WW2. With a very capable engine up front – 1,900 hp Wright R-2600 – this enabled the Avenger to fly along at up to 240kt (442km/hr) in its air display. The dark blue paint scheme silhouetted against the bright blue sky made it not difficult to miss as it did its many passes.

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Wolf Pitts Pro – VH-PVB, one of only two manufactured, this fast aerobatic display aircraft wowed the crowds. Capable of a top speed of 224kts (414 km/hr), this small but nimble Pitts design (powered by a 400 hp Lycoming engine), coupled with Paul’s high performance and tight airshow flight plan, thrilled the crowd with a series of stunning routines.

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The airshow was held in conjunction with the annual Wings & Wheels which saw many aircraft owners attend and allowed the general public to get up close and personal with aircraft, something not always possible. The General Aviation displays included a wide range of old and new technology on show. Local aviation fire rescue, airport businesses, vintage cars and motorcycles were also in attendance, making a fun day out for aviation enthusiasts, car enthusiasts and families.

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After the success of this event, it seems hopeful that a regular airshow at Mackay will happen.

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