On a beautiful, hot day in March, over 10 thousand people attended the 2002 Albury Airshow. Gates opened at 9am and the warbirds were on static display for an hour at 11am. Many people chose to fly in for the day with arrivals starting around 9:30am and going right up to 12:30 when the airspace was closed for the show. Organisers had anticipated about 50 aircraft flying in to visit but about 120 actually showed up. A further 30 display aircraft were in attendance, including those parked on the ramp. The show itself started at 1pm and continued as planned until just after 4pm.
Commentary for the day was provided by Dave Prosser who managed to both inform and amuse the crowd. The busy display schedule included:
- Parachute displays
- The Southern Knights Harvard team flying formation aerobatics
- Temora’s “Grey Nurse” Spitfire (flown by Col Pay)
- Dick Hourigan and Judy Pay’s Mustang (flown by Guy Bourke)
- The jets from Temora Aviation Museum (Meteor, Vampire and Dragonfly)
- A Winjeel flown by D’arcy O’Connell
- The Ansett DC-3
- Cessna Birddog
- RAAF Roulettes
- Pip Borman’s incredible display of both aerobatics and commentary (how he can speak while throwing his aircraft around the sky is still a source of amazement)
- Fire bombing demonstration (although no fire was lit due to the hot, dry weather)
Many other displays were also provided, keeping the large crowd entertained throughout the afternoon. Some aircraft were able to provide joy-flights before and after the show, including Antique Airways’ Beech 18 and Australian Jet Adventures’ Strikemaster.
The idea of hosting the airshow was raised by John Kempton, Albury Airport’s head air traffic controller. The air traffic control team then further developed the concept in conjunction with the Albury Aeroclub before taking it to the Albury City Council. The Council also enlisted the sponsorship of Mobil, Star FM, WIN TV and Bose to help cover the costs, which included insurance and attendance fees for some of the aircraft (eg: the Ansett DC-3). People visiting the airshow paid $10 per adult as they arrived through the gates. For those who flew into the show, landing fees were waived and a charge of $5 per adult was incurred. According to the local newspaper on the Monday after the show, any profits from the show were to be given to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
In addition to local volunteer and community organisations running stalls for food & drink, the hard working team at the Aeroclub provided lunch, drinks & snacks for the pilots, ground-marshals and photographers. Once the show was officially over, the club’s bar was opened and “beer o’clock” commenced for those who had finished work. The famous country friendliness and hospitality was in full swing and even unannounced reporters were made welcome (thanks to Basil and the airside security team for the “airside pass” and Tim Howard for the invite to the Aeroclub – your help was very much appreciated).
The 2002 Albury Airshow has definitely raised the bar for regional airshows, setting a high mark in terms of how it was run, the aircraft that attended and the demonstrations provided. While there were some hiccups and the odd complaint, most people agreed that the show had been a huge success. Mark Awburn, one of the air traffic controllers, advised that they had about 350 movements on the day, not including those that occurred during the show itself.
Given that the last airshow in Albury occurred in 1992, hopefully we won’t have to wait another 10 years for the next one. Judging by the dazed feeling that settled around the airport the next day, it may take a few years for everyone to recover.
Here’s a collection of photos taken at the show.
NOTE: This article was first published in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association magazine, April 2002 edition