Friday 1 March was the first of three public days where the general public were welcome to come to Avalon Airport and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Australian International Airshow. After a morning of viewing aircraft and talking to some operators, I ventured to the media's designated viewing area to enjoy the afternoon and evening flying program.
Earlier in the day, I had a look inside the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Lockheed C-121C (L-1049) Super Constellation VH-EAG "Connie" and Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina VH-PBZ "Felix" (The Black Cat).
Later, VH-PBZ kicked off the flying display with a couple of low passes above the crowd. Being an ex-Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft, VH-PBZ has a rich maritime search and rescue history.
As seen above, VH-PBZ was followed by RAAF Lockheed AP-3C Orion A9-755, which represented the modern day maritime patrol and search and rescue era. The Orion used the "Sheppard" callsign and is from 10 Squadron in the RAAF. Part of its display included flying on three engines - engine number four being shut down to demonstrate its long range flying configuration.
13-time Australian Aerobatic Champion Chris Sperou kicked off some spectacular aerobatic displays on Friday afternoon in his Pitts S-1-11B VH-XPS. The performances that Chris is putting on this year are the 74-year-old pilots last ever shows at Avalon.
Following Chris was Schweizer 300C (Hughes 269C) Helicopter N7505B - named 'Otto' - and flown by American pilot Roger Buis. Roger has been flying since 1980, and has over 18,000 total flight hours.
'Otto' put on a very entertaining show - flying backwards and sideways - and he even found time for some barrel racing and fun with a yo-yo!!
The "Tinstix of Dynamite" team comprising American pilots Skip Stewart and Melissa Pemberton, along with the pyrotechnic wizardry of Rich Gibson then put on a spectacular show of multiple head-on passes accompanied by up to a dozen explosions.
Melissa flew in Zivco Edge 540 VH-IIG while Skip flew in his Pitts S-2S Special N540S.
The Temora Aviation Museum displayed Gloster Meteor VH-MBX and Commonwealth CA-27 MK 32 Sabre VH-IPN.
Unfortunately, only one of the two Breitling Wingwalkers from Great Britian, along with their antique Boeing Stearman bi-planes, was able to display. However, it was a very spectacular display!
The United States Air Force (USAF) displayed three aircraft on Friday afternoon, with Boeing C-17A Globemaster III 05-5153 - based at Hickam AFB in Hawaii - first aircraft in the air putting on a very spirited display.
As some media (including me!) ventured to the Western side of Avalon Airport, one of the USAF General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16 fighter aircraft put its fantastic solo display.
Once we were on the Western side of the Airport, we were immediately treated to the breath-taking display by the USAF Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor.
The fast-jet action continued at Avalon with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets (Rhinos) putting on a spectacular show, followed by an equally impressive 'airfield attack' display, complete with pyrotechnic explosions.
The smaller RAAF Brittish Aerospace (BAe) Hawk 127 then put on a fantastic display with several low-level passes right over our heads!
There was then a change of pace after the fast jets, with the slower, but equally graceful, RAAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III A41-206 flying a brief but powerful display.
Bob Carleton's powered sailplane performance in his Start and Flug H-101 Salto N101AZ then lit up the night-sky with spectacular pyrotechnics.
Roger Buis in 'Otto' - the Schweizer 300C (Hughes 269C) Helicopter - N7505B - returned to the skies and continued the entertainment with a very bright and colourful pyrotechnic performance.
Concluding the night-time flying display was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed C-130J Hercules which performed a spectacular flare drop as it flew away from a darken airfield simulating night operations complete night-vision goggles (NVGs).
Fireworks and the 'wall of fire' completed the night's entertainment.
Day two of the public days is set to kick off early tomorrow with flying scheduled to start at 10am.