21 February 2024

Those magnificent men - and women - in their flying machines return to NSW's biggest airshow

| Jen White
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Plane sitting on the tarmac.

The Fokker FVIIB Southern Cross Replica as seen from a window on board the C121C Super Constellation. Both will be on display during Airshows Downunder Shellharbour. Photos: Jen White.

The state’s biggest airshow returns to the skies above Shellharbour Airport in early March.

Formerly known as Wings Over Illawarra, the first Airshows Downunder Shellharbour will feature six hours of flying on both show days, 2 and 3 March.

Aviation of all kinds will be on display in the air and on the ground, and the ticket price includes access to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) collection.

At a welcome event at HARS on Tuesday (20 February), the show’s new operator AMDA Foundation promised that apart from a new name and a move to a two-yearly event, visitors could expect the same world-class airshow as Wings Over Illawarra.

AMDA CEO Justin Giddings said the airshow brought together the aviation community, defence forces, industry and the Australian public.

“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,” he said.

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“It will 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.”

The event kicks off with a Careers Day on Friday 1 March, which about 1300 students from 86 schools are expected to attend.

During the weekend there will be aerobatic displays from Red Bull champions Matt Hall Racing and the Paul Bennet Airshows, as well as flying displays of aircraft such as the Southern Cross Replica, Yak 110, Grumman Tracker, Lockheeds and the HARS favourite, Super Constellation “Connie”.

The Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Army will join the spectacle, offering the chance to see their latest high-tech aircraft thundering through the sky and up close on the ground.

Across the weekend there will be aviation and aerospace exhibitions featuring commercial organisations, industry associations, volunteer groups and charities, as well as carnival rides, a sideshow alley, market stalls and food outlets.

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson told Tuesday’s gathering that Wings Over Illawarra had come a long way since it was started in 2007 by a community committee.

“We are so blessed in this region to have so much natural beauty with our escarpment, our lakes, our rivers and our coastline. There is no better place to hold this airshow than right here in the Illawarra,” she said.

“This show is expected to bring over 20,000 people to this event and is one of, if not the biggest, event on our calendar in 2024.”

Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer welcomed AMDA as operators of the airshow for the next decade, saying it was the start of a great partnership.

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“AMDA’s experience with the Australian International Airshow, and in the aviation industry overall, will no doubt take our airshow to the next level and really put Shellharbour on the map nationally and internationally,” he said.

“The larger format airshow is set to boost visitation and revenue for local businesses and raise the profile of Shellharbour city as a key travel destination in the visitor economy.

“Airshows Downunder Shellharbour really marks the celebration of a new chapter in our airport’s history.”

Airshows Downunder Shellharbour is on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 March, from 9 am – 5 pm. General admission tickets are $85 adults, $40 for children aged 5-15 years (four years and under are free) and a family pass is $210. For more details on the weekend’s activities or to buy tickets, visit Airshows Downunder Shellharbour.

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