Coffs airshow celebrates 80 years

IT'S shaping up to be the best ever Coffs Coast Airshow.

Celebrating the formation of the Coffs Harbour Aero Club and construction of an airfield in 1928, this year's 80th anniversary air show promises to be a spectacular event.

There's plenty of activities planned for the day, making it not only an exciting day for aviation enthusiasts, but also a great day out for the whole family.

First off the block on Saturday at about 9.50am, will be the Coffs City Skydivers with a Australian flag ceremony, followed by an aerobatic display. 'Connie', a Lockheed Super Constellation will again be on show, with tours of her interior.

Other aircraft include an Albatross and Strikemaster jet trainers, Boeing Stearman, Mustangs, Wirraways and more, an amazing array of aircraft from historic bi planes to modern jets to war planes, in the air and on the ground.

There will be aerobatic displays, demonstrations, start-ups, taxis and fly-pasts through the day.

The world-renowned RAAF Roulettes, who last year wowed the crowds at the show as well as throughout Coffs Harbour, will again this year, be performing amazing formation aerobatics.

The Roulettes are the Royal Australian Air Force's elite formation aerobatic display team which showcases air force lying skills to the Australian public. Team members are flying instructors at the Air Force's Central Flying School.

The Russian Roulettes will also be at the show, using Russian Yaks and Chinese Nanchangs.

There will be plenty of food available on site and live music and entertainment will round out what will be a wonderful day of aviation fun for all the family.

Dedicated this year to the 80th anniversary of airfield construction and the formation of the Coffs Harbour Aero Club, today's Coffs Coast Airshow and open day is expected to finish at around 4pm.

Flying through the decades

THE first aircraft to touch down in Coffs Harbour, on June 14, 1920, was a Bristol BE2E biplane, flown by Lieutenant Bird.

He had flown from Bellingen and he used the Jetty beach area as his runway, offering to take up locals on 'joy rides', with only one taker, paying a 'fiver' for the honour.

An air pageant was held on December 30, 1928, to coincide with the opening of the new airport, built by the racecourse.

The Coffs Harbour District Aero Club formed that year too and today is one of the oldest aero clubs in Australia.

In January 1930, the Coffs Harbour District Aero Club held another pageant, the biggest event ever staged in Coffs Harbour to that date, with an estimated 5000 people attending.

Later in the month, a National Airways Tiger Moth made the first night landing at the aerodrome. The first post-World War II pageant was held on March 5, 1949, showcasing many different aircraft, including a Lincoln bomber and Mustang fighters.

In April 1984, the airport went from the Department of Aviation hands to the shire council, under an agreement which included a $10 million upgrading of the tarmac to jet standard. In the early 1990s, the City Council gained full ownership and has since widened the runway and expanded the terminal.

Today, the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport is one of the largest and busiest regional airports in New South Wales, handling domestic, regional, and international aircraft. It has the capacity to handle aircraft up to the size of a 240-seat Boeing 767.

Patient transfer facilities allow the Flying Doctor Service, Westpac Search and Rescue helicopter and others to use the airport; and because it is a controlled airspace, thanks to its control tower, it is also a key facility for Airservices Australia and a mecca for fixed-wing airplanes.

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