2015 MAITLAND AIRSHOW – AVIATION BACK IN THE HUNTER VALLEY – Words and Images by Phil Buckley
The weekend of July 4/5 2015 saw the Hunter Valley’s biggest regional airport – Maitland Airport – become the focal point for an event which hasn’t been held since the early 2000s – an air show. Combined teamwork from Paul Bennet Airshows and Royal Newcastle Aero Club enabled a successful event, reminding people how important aviation is to the local economy and surrounding regions.
Attending from around Australia was a diverse range of warbirds, current military and civil aircraft as well as helicopters. The abundance of warbirds likely inspired many to come, but there was much for everyone to enjoy with many family attractions, good food, amusements, aviation ground displays and local community groups present. In some areas, the crowd line was five to ten people deep, which showed a keen interest from the local population to attend an airshow even in the middle of the Australian winter. The Saturday show was sunny day with clear skies. It was breezy too, which brought a distinct chill to the air at times, although that didn’t dissuade people from attending. However, as you might imagine, the gusty conditions did present a challenge for some pilots on approach or departure, due to the varying cross-wind.
The warbirds actively flying and on static display included WWII trainers and bombers, 50s-era trainers through to 1960s-era transports and prop/jet trainers. Making a rare appearance in New South Wales was Judy Pay’s CAC-built North American Mustang which drew great attention from the crowd with its red nose spinner and European grey and green paint scheme. Adding more colour was Paul Bennet Airshows’ T-28 Trojan, flown alongside their CAC Wirraway and Grumman Avenger torpedo-bomber. The Russian Roolettes aerial display team flew up and added some smoke and radial aerobatics for the public to view. A Yak-52 was also present for adventure rides.
The Historic Aircraft Restoration Society, or HARS for short, from Albion Park brought their former Royal Australian Air Force DHC-4 Caribou and C-47B Dakota to add some heavy metal to the air show. The Caribou, A4-210, is one of two examples which HARS flies as part of its Vietnam Veterans Memorial Flight; both of them having served with Australian forces in Viet Nam during much of the nation’s ten year participation in that conflict. The Caribou, just six years after its RAAF retirement, has become a popular air show exhibit as borne out by the throng of visitors inside its cockpit and cargo hold while the aircraft sat in the static area. Unfortunately, HARS had to park their Dakota away from the crowds so they couldn’t get a closer look, but it did take off late on Saturday afternoon. Mixed in with the warbirds throughout the day were Tigermoths as well as civil aerobatic performances and aircraft handling displays.
All in all it was a highly successful event, and based upon the strong public attendance to this first air show in Maitland for many years, the event will likely return next year. The author wishes to thank PBA/RNAC for granting media access.
Some more of Phil Buckley’s photographs from the Maitland Air Show can be seen in the slide show below…
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