WOI / Airshow 2014 review

The annual Wings Over Illawarra airshow was held on May 4 2014 and for the first time since 2007, the flying program was nearly blown away. Strong and nearly constant winds hung around the NSW south coast all day and unfortunately impacted on the running of the airshow. This airshow was limited in what could fly, due to the crosswind on the runway was above many of the flying program aircraft specified operating safety limit. This issue possibly many of the general public may of not fully understood. A few firsts were also noted with this airshow as it was intending to be the first WOI airshow to allow full aerobatics and was also the first run by a private company instead of the previous combined WOI committee/HARS operations.

A slight lull in the wind appeared in the afternoon which then saw Stephen Gale’s S.211 Marchetti ex Singaporean Air Force trainer, Jeff Trappett’s former RAAF CAC Sabre jet and the RAAF’s two F/A-18B Hornets take off for flying displays. The aircraft were all seen to crab into the wind as the roared down the runway and crab more once airborne. Unlike past WOI airshows where the weather had been favourable for flying, this wind heavily limited aircraft to jets only, so none of the other popular aircraft took to the sky. The RAAF Roulettes team also remained on the ground.

Since limited by the wind, other warbirds that were due to fly but didn’t were then basically changed into static displays and included the Avenger, Catalina, L-39 and CAC Mustang. Noted on display at the airport were the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm who flown in a mix of their fleet types with a Seahawk, MRH-90 and a Squirrel helicopter. All of these were noted to attract a large influx of visitors with questions. The ADF had brought along a few training flight simulator displays which were popular with young and old members of the public

The other major attractions for the general public were a large range of aircraft on display which included the F-111, Hunter, Canberra, Vampires, a new Mosquito project in the development phase, C-47 Dakota, Neptune, T-6 Harvard, Winjeel, Paul Bennet Airshow Pitts and other civil aircraft. The local based Rural Fire Service had their Squirrel helicopter on public display along side their fire fighting vehicles.

Local merchandise sellers, food and local community groups stalls were seen to be doing much business during the day. Hopefully next year the windy weather wont be so strong and thus allow the airshow to fly its full schedule.

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