Every two years the Australian International Air Show is hosted at Avalon Airport to the west of Melbourne. Generally referred to simply as “Avalon” or “Avalon Air Show,” the event comprises a trade show (the Australian International Aerospace & Defence Exposition) and an air show that’s open to the public on Friday afternoon through to Sunday.
As usual, I will be attending Avalon for the trade show industry days with a media pass to gather content for Plane Crazy Down Under but, for the first time ever, I’ll also be attending as an aerospace corporate (aka “trade”) visitor. Thanks to my job with Ocean Software, I have a number of clients & prospects to meet with and some events to attend during the trade days. It’s going to be interesting for me to attend the event with a more critical & technical interest in some of the exhibits than I’ve had previously.
During the last few Avalon events the trade and aircraft displays have been starting to feel rather “same-same” with only a couple of new items to be interested in, otherwise it has all been follow-ups and incremental information. This year’s event, however, has a number of new platforms from the RAAF that will be of great interest, including:
- Australia’s first two Lockheed Martin F-35As.
- Boeing’s EA-18G Growler.
- The C-27J Spartan will finally be here in RAAF colours.
- Hopefully the RAAF will have one of their new Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft on static, or at least a crew to talk to (the USN crew last time were very limited in what they could discuss).
There’ll also be a couple of F-22As which are always spectacular to watch (and hear), some conference events I’m interested in attending, the warbird tarmac, a number of GA aircraft to check out and much more.
Of course, the classic Avalon rule of thumb applies for many aircraft (especially the military ones) that are promoted as attending the event: “Until the aircraft crosses the fence, lands, taxis in and goes unserviceable, it hasn’t really arrived at Avalon!”
I much prefer attending Avalon events on the trade days as the feel is quite different to public days. There are no barriers on the trade stands in the exhibit halls and the aircraft aren’t as heavily barricaded while the company & military representatives are more willing to discuss detailed technical aspects of their products. Of course, it’s also a whole lot less crowded!
By Friday morning the barriers are up in the exhibit hall to stop people just wandering onto the stand and trying to take anything not bolted down (this has actually happened in the past), some of the aircraft are leaving and the barricades around static displays get expanded. Given this, I’m planning to attend Tuesday to Friday for business and only attend on Saturday if I need an extra day to complete my content gathering for PCDU.
Despite everything, I do enjoy being at Avalon and have since I started working tarmac way back in 2001. Between the new platforms, the client work and catching up with friends, I’m actually looking forward to Avalon 2017 more than I have the previous two events. Watch this space!