2018 Event Review

Wings Over Illawarra / The Sydney Airshow - May 5 & 6, 2018

Location: Illawarra Regional Airport, New South Wales, Australia.
Admission: Not noted
Parking: Not noted
Value: Good
Rating out of 10: 8

Montain Home AFB 2018 Gunfighter Skies

The 2018 edition of the annual Wings Over Illawarra / The Sydney Airshow took place on 5 and 6 May 2018 at Illawarra Regional Airport, New South Wales, Australia. visited this event on Saturday 5 May 2018 only. Under blue skies a record breaking crowd witnessed an impressive line up of aircraft on static display and a varied flying program - a mix of current Australian Defence Force hardware, warbirds and aerobatic displays.

Flying display

The active runway is relatively close to the crowd line, making it ideal for take off, landing and taxiing shots – at least in the mornings, as in the afternoon it is backlit. Add the warm weather - unfortunately causing heat haze- and photography became a rather challenging job…

Although not part of the official flying program one of the first interesting movements of the day was the arrival of Chief of the Defense Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin in a Challenger 604 from 34 Squadron / RAAF Base Fairbairn as part of the static display.

The six hour long flying display was opened at 10.30am by 'The Roulettes', the Royal Australian Air Force display team, flying the Pilatus PC-9/A. Australian Defence Force flying displays continued through the day with the MH-60R Seahawk from 816 Squadron / HMAS Albatross, the F/A-18A Hornet from 2 Operational Conversion Unit / RAAF Base Williamtown, the C-27J Spartan from 35 Squadron / RAAF Base Richmond, the C-17A Globemaster III from 36 Squadron / RAAF Base Amberley and the Hawk Mk.127 from 76 Squadron / RAAF Base Williamtown.


Also for warbird lovers Wings Over Illawarra 2018 had a lot to offer. A few highlights:

Temora Aviation Museum's Spitfire Mk. VIII This aircraft, VH-HET / former A58-758, was the last Spitfire acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force. It was built by Supermarine in England in 1944, test flown and then shipped to Australia. The Air Force took delivery of the aircraft in April 1945, and, with World War II drawing to a close, the aircraft was not required on active service and was instead placed into storage. After the war, the aircraft was utilised at Sydney Technical College as an instructional airframe. It was then acquired by Sid Marshall who stored it, disassembled, at Bankstown until 1982. Colin Pay obtained the aircraft and began a detailed restoration program, which was completed in 1985 when the aircraft flew again. The aircraft is painted in the green and grey camouflage colours worn by the Royal Australian Air Force aircraft defending Darwin during World War II and in operations in the South West Pacific. The aircraft carries the markings of Wing Commander R.H. (Bobby) Gibbes. David Lowy acquired the aircraft in May 2000 and donated it to the Temora Aviation Museum in July 2002, where it is maintained in an airworthy condition.

Ross Pay's Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII This former Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, VH-JFW / serial number 5481, arrived in Australia on 7 April 2014 from Canada. This aircraft has undergone an extensive refurbishment program by Vintage Fighter Restorations at Scone, New South Wales. Following a full inspection and survey of the aircraft, the decision was taken to send the fuselage to Matt Webber and the team at Luskintyre Aircraft Restoration to have the fuselage woodwork refurbished and new cloth added to the fuselage. The work was extensive, with the rear upper cockpit framing rebuilt including new stringers on the fuselage. A new fabric "bag" was then fitted to the fuselage and then the doping of the fabric and finally the painting of the structure followed. After the return of the fuselage assembly to Vintage Fighter Restorations, a large program of work ensued to refurbish the rest of the aircraft including the hydraulic and electrical systems and any worn items were replaced. The wings were fully inspected and made ready for repaint. The aircraft's Rolls Royce Merlin 500/224 engine was found to be in excellent condition and required very little attention other than maintenance. The engine remains in the red colour finish of a previous restoration in the United Kingdom with the belief that it will be easier to determine the source of oil or coolant leaks. In early 2016, the majority of the airframe had been refurbished and the wings refitted to the aircraft. The Hurricane was moved to the paint shop at Vintage Fighter Restorations, where the camouflage and aircraft markings were applied. The colours and marking applied to the aircraft are extremely detailed and were researched as closely as possible to represent the aircraft of Battle of Britain pilot John Dallas Crossman, an Australian who flew with 32 Squadron and 46 Squadron and was killed on 30 September 1940. He was shot down in his Hurricane I (V6748) by a Messerschmitt Bf 109E. The scheme was specially chosen to honour the pilot who was from the New South Wales Hunter Valley region of Australia, close to Scone. Vintage Fighter Restorations arranged all the appropriate inspections and reports to be carried out and filed with the appropriate authorities for its first flight in Australia on 2 October 2016 at Scone by pilot Ross Pay. The flight commemorated the last flight of John Dallas Crossman 76 years and 3 days earlier in the original Hurricane I (V6748). The Hurricane remains at Scone NSW in the care of Vintage Fighter Restorations.

Ross Pay's Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-18 Mk.21 Mustang This aircraft, VH-AUB / former A68-107, is one of Australia's oldest warbirds, having been restored and registered by (Colin) Pay's and put on the Australian register in 1980. The aircraft was previously in private hands from 1958 to 1966 with Titus Oates. One of the finest American fighter aircraft of World War II, the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang owed its origin to a Royal Air Force specification for a single-seat fighter to replace the Curtiss P-40. The original 1,150 HP Allison engine lacked performance at high altitude and the Royal Air Force employed the early Mustangs on low-level armed tactical reconnaissance sorties. Meantime, the United States Army Air Force ordered a limited number of P-51's and P-51As' to operate in the dive-bomber role. However, once the basic P-51 design was mated with the proven Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the aircraft became an enormous success. Through P-51B, C and D models, the Mustang was just as capable at long-range escort as short ground-attack sorties. In 1943, the Australian government arranged for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation to manufacture the Mustang P-51D under licence from North American Aviation. The first eighty Mustang Mk.20's (A68-1 – A68-80) were delivered with Packard Merlin V-1650-3 engines, under the CA-17 designation. A second contract for improved Mustangs known as CA-18 were built as Mustang Mk. 21's with Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engines. Produced too late for World War II, Royal Australian Air Force Mustangs were assigned to Japan for occupation duties and, early in 1946, 76, 77 and 82 Squadrons flew into Iwakuni. In 1949 76 Squadron and 82 Squadrons withdrew to Australia and the Mustangs of 77 Squadron remained to take part in the Korean War from June 1950 until April 1951, when they were replaced by Gloster Meteors. In Australia, Mustangs were withdrawn from service in 1959. This aircraft was registerd to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1947 and served for eleven years. This aircraft served in the Royal Australian Air Force for eleven years. In 1978 this aircraft was acquired by Col Pay.

Aerobatic displays included Paul Andronicou in his Extra330SC, Paul Bennet in his Wolf Pitts Pro and Red Bull Air Racer Matt Hall in his Extra300 amongst many others.

Static displays:

They included Australian Defence Force's F/A-18A, Hawk Mk.127, Bell 429, EC-135T, MRH-90 and S-70A Blackhawk, the local Historical Aircraft Restoration Society collection amongst other general aviation aircraft. Unfortunately photography was nearly impossible.

The next Wings Over Illawarra / The Sydney Airshow will be held on Saturday 4 May 2019 and Sunday 5 May 2019 and will be back. And you?

and Jeroen Oude Wolbers would like to thank the organisers of Wings Over Illawarra 2018 / The Sydney Airshow, Bright Events and in particular Steve Visscher, Australian Defence Force, Temora Aviation Museum and Vintage Fighter Restorations.

Report and photography by Jeroen Oude Wolbers for

Click on image to start a slide show

Images of Luke Days 2018
Copyright ©2018 TheAviationMagazine.com All trade names, trademarks and manufacturer names are the property of their respective owners.