Tyabb Airshow 2016 – Winged Warriors
by Matt Savage
Every two years the peace and tranquility in the skies over Tyabb, Victoria is shattered by a gathering of classic and warbird aircraft for what many consider to be one of the best “country” airshows in Australia. Tyabb is a small town an hour’s drive south-east of Melbourne on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, and punches well above its weight when it comes to flying displays. This year’s show took place on Sunday, March 13th.
While the weather gods gave us cloudy skies for most of the day, over 10,000 spectators and special guests were on hand to witness this year’s spectacle. The organizers, Peninsular Aero Club, focussed the event on “Winged Warriors”, and many consider this year’s effort as the best yet! The show is a charity event, with the majority of the proceeds going to Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, which provides early intervention mental health services for 12 to 25 year olds. The Tyabb CFA, Mt Eliza Lions Club and local youth sports clubs also received supported from air show profits. Display aircraft came from across southern and eastern Australia and performed for an appreciative audience.
Show director, Judy Pay, contributed many aircraft from her Old Aeroplane Company collection, including the ultra-rare P-40F Warhawk (one of only two airworthy examples) and a Commonwealth CA-18 Mustang among others. The Temora Aviation Museum, located in south-western New South Wales, sent down three favourites from their stable; a brace of Supermarine Spitfires (a Mk.VIII and a combat-veteran Mk.XVI) and the locally-manufactured CAC Boomerang stop-gap fighter. The Tyabb Air Show marked the first time Temora’s Spitfire Mk.XVI had ever displayed away from its home base; a credit to the airshow organizers. The Boomerang’s arrival was a home-coming of sorts, as every production example had rolled off the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s assembly line at Fisherman’s Bend on the opposite shore of Port Phillip Bay. The sound of round engines was particularly loud this year as a couple of rare radials made their Tyabb debuts, including Stephen Carter’s Ryan SCW cabin monoplane resplendent in US Civil Air Patrol markings, Paul Bennet’s Grumman TBM-3E Avenger, and Graham Hosking’s immaculate Chance-Vought F4U-5N Corsair. The Corsair has quite a history, having originally served with the US Marine Corps during the Korean War, before joining the Honduran Air Force and later coming under ownership of Walt Disney Studios!
As in previous shows, the Australian Defence Force made a contribution to this year’s event. The Royal Australian Air Force brought down a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter from 36 Squadron at RAAF Amberley in south-east Queensland for a handling display. The massive cargo plane certainly created an ‘aluminium overcast’ over Tyabb! The Royal Australian Navy also showcased a Bell 429 training helicopter on static display. Jet-powered action wasn’t limited to the ADF however, as a SIAI-Marchetti S.211 and Let L-39 Albatross put on a kerosene-fuelled act as well. Their performance was hampered slightly by the low cloud base, but thrilling nonetheless!
When not flying, aircraft were available for close-up public inspection on the apron. Until you stand next to a TBM Avenger on the ground, it’s hard to appreciate just how BIG the aircraft is! Numerous hangars were opened up for show-goers, with owners, pilots and ground crew answering questions from young and old alike. Several vintage cars and members of local re-enactment groups were also on hand to provide an interactive experience. Collector David Perrott also brought down his Hawker Hunter cockpit section, and part of a very rare Fairey Battle cockpit as well.
Several themed aerial displays flew throughout the day. The RAAF Heritage Trainers, flying no less than five CT-4 Airtrainers & three CA-25 Winjeels, flew precision formation and solo acts, along with the Southern Knights aerobatic team in four North American Harvard trainers. Australian aerobatic champion Paul Bennet and his Sky Aces team put on a high-adrenaline display in their Wolf Pitts & Pitts Special. Long-time air show performer and thirteen-time Australian Aerobatic Champion, Chris Sperou, also flew a spirited routine in his Pitts Super Stinker, including barrel rolls around Warren Stewart’s Sky Blazers Beech Debonair.
No less than four different Ryan monoplanes also flew, including Graham Hosking’s rare, machinegun-armed STA Special which once served in the Honduran Air Force. It was is the last survivor from the original ten examples, and of three which served in the FAH.
Those “Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines” were represented by the RAAF Museum, flying their Sopwith Pup replica alongside a Sopwith Snipe replica built by local pilot and PAC instructor, Nick Caudwell. They flew both in formation and as solo acts. A fifteen-ship Balbo of fighters, ground attack and trainer aircraft wowed the crowd, concluding in a “Missing Man” formation which closed the show. All-in-all, the 2016 Tyabb Air Show proved hugely successful. Many thanks must go to the Peninsula Aero Club, The Old Aeroplane Company, Temora Aviation Museum, and the other aircraft owners, pilots, ground crew and volunteers for putting together a truly wonderful experience!
WarbirdsNews wishes to thank Matt Savage aka Mach One Photography for his superb coverage of the Tyabb Air Show!