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Avalon Airshow Wrap Up

A look back at the resounding success of AIRSHOW 2023

After years of uncertainty and a forced hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Avalon Airshow has roared back to life, capturing the hearts and minds of industry and the public alike across one week in March.

It’s fair to say nobody really knew what to expect on Tuesday morning, the opening day of the 2023 Avalon International Airshow. COVID had kept visitors away for so long, forcing the postponement and eventual cancellation of the 2021 event. However, by the time crowds descended on the sell-out weekend days, it was clear Avalon was back. Bigger and better than ever.

As the thunderous roar of jet engines filled the air, all faces turned to the sky for breathtaking flying displays from the likes of the RAAF, U.S. Air Force, the ROKAF Black Eagles and the RAAF Roulettes. Watching the precision of these highly skilled aces flying in formation, performing military manoeuvres and displaying the full capabilities of each aircraft was a fascinating scene to behold. The perfectly engineered machines seemingly defy gravity and the laws of physics, it was hard not to be completely awed by the incredible lengths of human achievement… between having your brain scrambled by the sound.

It wasn’t all jets and heavy aircraft, Paul Bennet Airshows put on a marvellous display, drawing the lion’s share of “ooh”, “ahh” and “oh my god he’s going to crash!” cries from the crowd. In the cockpit of his ever-faithful Wolf Pitts Pro, Paul had no problem competing with the big boys for attention.

The fun wasn’t all in the air however, with many fascinating static displays on the ground. Crowd favourites included the RAAF virtual reality experience, the adorable Air Force Puppies and the chance to walk through the U.S. Air Force’s supermassive C5-M Super Galaxy.

If there was a theme that emerged from the countless displays around the grounds, it was drones. Like none before, this was the drone airshow, with an abundance of unmanned aircraft on display for defence, cargo, emergency response and transport applications. Offerings from industry giants like BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman showed the seriousness the drone revolution is being taken with in today’s aviation world. Similarly, electric engines and eVTOL aircraft were touted as revolutionary new innovations, set to disrupt aviation – and transport in general – as we know it.

Despite the strong military and commercial aviation presence, the GA/Airsport section of the show drew swaths of attendees looking to turn their awe into knowledge and skill. A compelling display of GA and RAAus-registered aircraft gave those with flying dreams a clearer idea of the pilot’s pathway that lay in front of them, with many stopping by the RAAus tent to learn more about learning more. “We each spoke to hundreds (if not thousands!) of people wanting to know how to get involved in recreational aviation. It’s fair to say that there remains a significant appetite for Australians to take to the sky” said RAAus CEO, Matt Bouttell. With a little luck, some of those people may be reading this today. If that’s you, hello and welcome!

Adding to the allure of the recreational aviation world was the myriad displays of shiny new ultralight and LSA aircraft. Offerings from makers such as Tecnam, TL-Ultralight, JMB, Sling, DirectFly and so many more dotted the grounds, each presenting their own take on what it means to be able to fly recreationally. “It’s been really busy” said Michael Xeni, Australian distributor for the beautifully crafted Aerospool WT-9 Dynamic, “We’ve had a lot of people coming in and enquiring, people saying ‘I’ve seen this before’ and giving really good feedback.”

A wander through the gigantic exhibition halls revealed even more aviation goodness to discover. From state-of-the-art displays from industry titans like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, to captivating stalls from start-ups and innovators, there was something to see around every corner. A fantastic display from AvPlan EFB also helped draw in potential recreational pilots, demonstrating just how easy flight planning can be, helping to break down the idea that it’s all too complex.

As someone who’s not always able to make it out to the airstrip, the exhibit from RealSimGear caught my eye. Creators of affordable flight sim set ups, fitted with customisable controls and avionics, RealSimGear felt like a great option for individual pilots and schools alike, looking to give themselves the ability for more practise and training.

Also in the hall were OzRunways, displaying their ever-popular EFB app to a seemingly constant flow of interested visitors, no doubt helped by the presence of Red Bull Air Race champion Matt Hall, who hosted a meet and greet at the stall for fans after a stunning display in the sky.

From end to end, the 2023 Airshow was packed with interesting exhibits, fun activities and unforgettable flying displays. Perhaps more importantly however, it was packed with people. It was fantastic to see so many people taking an interest in aviation, getting an up-close look at it and – hopefully – dreaming about getting into it themselves. As a tool for inspiring a new generation of budding aviators, both young and old, the 2023 Avalon Airshow simply could not be better.