Air Show?s return welcome
MATT Hall says he does not spend a lot of time on the ground and that is the way he likes it.
Australia's top aerobatic pilot had the crowd of 6000-8000 people gasping as he climbed, stalled, spiralled, slid, rolled and looped his way around the sky over Coffs Harbour Airport on Saturday.
But one of the stars of the 2007 Coffs Harbour Air Show with his spectacular stunts in his tiny Giles 202 aerobatic aircraft and a World War II Mustang fighter, says he is not an adrenalin junkie.
"If the adrenalin gets going, it's a bad thing- it means I've pushed it past my limit and outside my comfort zone," said the man who dices with gravity on a daily basis and tumbles through the sky at 500 degrees a second, one of the fastest roll rates in the world.
He does carry a parachute but says he 'wouldn't have a chance at these altitudes' if anything went really wrong.
And things do go wrong.
"I've had a plane that stopped and caught fire," Mr Hall said.
"That got my attention."
Matt Hall flies for work, for business and for fun.
On the other side of the coin was Coffs Harbour Air League squadron head Ean Rosenberg, whose nostalgic visit to the cockpit of an Australian-made de Havilland Drover, like the one he used to fly over Charleville in the 1950s, evoked memories of 'a bastard of an aeroplane' which was 'fun and games to fly when the controls locked up.
The military and its pilots stole the show on Saturday, with the magnificent RAAF Roulettes aerobatic team bracketing the aerial program with two superb displays of precision formation flying in the warm blue autumn sky.
There were 'oohs' and 'aahs' not just from the Air Show crowd, but from Coffs Coast residents as far away as Upper Orara as they watched the six-plane precision flying team execute an aerial ballet flying just three metres apart at 600kmph guided only by precise hand-eye coordination and verbal instructions from their leader.
World War II and postwar military aircraft featured heavily in both flying demonstrations and ground displays with Mustang, Avenger, Wirraway, Winjeel and Catalina, Yak and Antinov aircraft among the aircraft clustered around Connie, the restored Super Constellation transatlantic airliner.
Long queues of air buffs snaked through the interior of Connie and the WWII Catalina, rescued from 'graves' in the Arizona desert and the mountains of Portugal with dramatic restoration derring-do by members of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society. The only sour note of the day was provided by two Coffs Harbour Police officers who ruffled Aero Club feathers when they arrived at the club as soon as the bar opened at the correct time of 4pm, took photographs and interrogated patrons, club volunteers and even Air Show site holders based at the club for the day, even before many visitors had a chance to sign in.
New Coffs Harbour Aero Club President Tony Donelan described the unexpected 'raid' as 'a little bit of overkill by the licensing police.
"We might have a few signs missing, but we are a small club of all volunteers who work here all year for no money, teaching kids to fly and promoting aviation," he said.