23 November 2023

Illawarra's own airshow spectacular returns, sporting a new name and look

| Dione David
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Crowds around jets at Wings Over Illawarra

Wings Over Illawarra is now called Airshows Downunder Shellharbour but is still the same family-friendly favourite it’s always been. Photo: Mark Jessop.

There’s a hint of newness in the air as ticket sales for Airshows Downunder Shellharbour – formerly Wings Over Illawarra – take flight today (Thursday, 23 November).

Set for early March 2024 at Shellharbour Airport, the Illawarra’s airshow is sporting a new name and a new look but is billed as the same world-class family-friendly airshow it’s always been.

The event kicks off with a Careers Day for students and teachers on Friday, 1 March then opens to the public with a schedule of aerial displays to thrill spectators over the weekend.

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The 2024 flying program kicks off with airshow favourite Paul Bennett Airshows’ Sky Aces set to wow the crowd with formation aerobatics.

The 12-minute show will feature four ships piloted by a special aerobatics team in a tightly choreographed display that will include sequences with all four planes, pairs and solo aerobatics from star pilots Paul Bennett and Glenn Graham.

The Sky Aces aircraft headliner is the Wolf Bitts Pro – the highest-performing aerobatics plane in the world, but the show will also debut a Sea Fury.

Paul has been a part of the Airshow every year since it started and said this year will be no exception to the “edge-of-your-seat” excitement it always drums up.

“The way the show is laid out for the crowd at Illawarra is very good, it’s exhilarating to watch from any vantage point,” he said.

“It keeps you on the edge of your seat – you hardly know where to look.”

Paul and the crew will be sticking around afterwards for those who would like to see the aircraft up close, purchase merchandise or get autographs.

Joining the spectacle are the Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Army, with a chance to see their latest high-tech aircraft thundering through the sky and up close on the ground.

Ticket holders will have free access to Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) static aircraft displays.

Justin Giddings, CEO of the event organisers AMDA Foundation, said while the full flying program is still under development, it promises to showcase the best of modern defence force aircraft, civil aerobatics performers, restored historic and warbird aircraft and ground displays, with the added bonus of free carnival rides for children for the perfect family day out.

“Airshows Downunder Shellharbour is an event from the golden age of airshows, reliving the excitement and delight of flying in a carnival atmosphere that the whole family will love,” he said.

“But more than that, it is an event that brings the aviation community, defence forces, industry and Australian public together. The show celebrates the aviation industry and highlights exciting and rewarding careers in an industry that plays an important part in the everyday life of Australia.”

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Visitors can expect the return of the Gold Pass Grandstand and the Wings Pavilion, offering VIP viewing with food and drinks right on the flight line.

Airshows Downunder Shellharbour will come to Shellharbour Airport from 1-3 March 2024. Early bird tickets cost $30 for children aged five to 15 years and $75 for adults, increasing by $10 from Monday 12 February. Children under four years old will be free and there are also family and concession tickets available.

Visit Airshows Downunder Shellharbour for more information or to book tickets.

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