On Saturday 14 April 2018, Parkes Airport in south eastern Australia was the place to be when the local Parkes Aeroclub celebrated its 70th anniversary with an air show. It was a big celebration for the region, which saw many military, general aviation and warbirds attend.
Parkes, about 6hrs drive west of Sydney, New South Wales, was a major RAAF training base during WWII, with Spitfires and other significant types flying from the base. Today, three Bellman hangars are all that remain from its wartime operations. One of these hangars is home to the Parkes Aviation Museum which also looks after part of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society’s (HARS) collection. The town is also well known for the nearby Parkes Observatory, made famous in the wonderful 2000 film The Dish, which related the story of how the large radio telescope was used to relay communications and television images to the world during the lunar landings of July, 1969.
The air show was just part of the days events, but took place amidst some strong winds which built up in the early afternoon. In addition to the air show and the vintage planes on display, the event organizers invited owners of vintage cars to bring their vehicles. There were various stalls and the Parkes annex of the HARS museum was open for visitors as well. The star of the weekend was former RAAF AP-3C Orion A9-759. This was the first time for the Australian public to see the new HARS exhbiit on display. Opening the aircraft for visitors had been held up until the last few days by paperwork, but the vintage sub-chaser was finally on view for the public. It was said to be the “world’s worst best kept secret”.
Across the day the public observed flying and static aviation displays from likes of the Royal Australian Air Force Air Force Roulettes, Aero L-39 Albatros, Ross Pay’s CAC-built North American Mustang along with notable aircraft from the HARS fleet including their deHavilland DHC-4 Caribou, Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina and Convair 440. The Mustang, Catalina and Caribou flew displays despite the strong winds. The Caribou performed especially well during its STOL departure.
Around 3,000 people are estimated to have attended the event. Overall, it was a good event organised by the Parkes Aero Club members and hopefully it might become a more regular air show for central west NSW.