Avalon Airshow

Noise, spectacular, and a whole bunch of inspirational people

20190301_194522.pngThe Australian International Airshow and Exposition is the biggest aviation, aerospace and defence expo in the southern hemisphere. Held at Avalon Airport south west of Melbourne, the public spectacular held over the weekend is preceded by a weeklong exhibition and trade show.

The trade week is a fantastic networking opportunity for anyone in the aviation, aerospace, or defence industries, and this year was particular exciting in terms of the work we promote at Sci-Fly STEM Outreach, due to the inclusion of the careers and skills forum. Designed to showcase STEM education, and the opportunities which these subjects can lead to, Sci-Fly’s Dr Zara Dennis spent a significant amount of time in the STEM pavilion; making new contacts, greeting old friends, and most importantly collaborating and sharing ideas for the ongoing promotion of STEM.

The Qantas green-screen photo booth was certainly a highlight, with a virtual Dreamliner flight deck and even uniforms available for youngsters to try on, this was supplemented by the wonderful Qantas staff on hand to answer questions and inspire visitors. Not least of all, Qantas pilot and STEM Ambassador Davida Forshaw (photo below with Dr Zara Dennis), who is a passionate advocate for inspiring young women and girls to pursue a career in aviation. It is always a pleasure chatting to Davida, an international pilot with over 20 years’ experience, having flown the Boeing 747, 737, Airbus A330, and now the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, she is also a wonderful mentor who oozes passion and experience.

The Victorian Space Science Education Centre and BAE Systems also had impressive interactive displays. With a Martian surface for navigating Sphero digital robots and rockets for testing weight distribution and balance respectively, as the public flooded in on Friday afternoon it was fantastic to see kids and big kids alike getting involved.

Of course, no visit to the Avalon Airshow would be complete without mentioning the aircraft. For our Dr Z, the standout this year was most definitely the B-52 Stratofortress. Chatting away to the flight crew, she was permitted a look inside the open hatch. Unfortunately due to, quote “secret stuff”, actually climbing aboard wasn’t permitted, but the overfly Friday night was non-the-less spectacular. The jets once again made the crowds reach for their ear plugs, and the ground displays ranged from heavy carries such as the C-17 Globemaster and Hercules, to Helicopters, Warbirds and light GA aircraft.

Paul Bennet Airshows again dazzled the spectators with the absolute precision of the three ship SkyAces Formation Aerobatic Team. And Paul Andronicou, who we last saw at the Lilydale Airshow back in November 2018, gave his Avalon debut performance in his explosive Extra 330SC. The Russian Roolettes also made a long-awaited debut, and the aggression and pyrotechnics of the Air Bandits was a night time favourite. Contrasted by the majestic display of Johan Gustafsson in his ACRO glider; a truly beautiful performance.

The weather may have been 40+ degrees, and the shadows cast by flags may have provided safe refuge for random Avgeeks to group and make new acquaintances, but without a doubt the airshow was as amazing as ever. The addition of the STEM pavilion this year also brought a new element to the event which aligns seamlessly with what Sci-Fly STEM Outreach is aiming to achieve, and we hope this is a feature in years to come. Throw in a lot of Avgas, JetA1, noise, spectacular, and a whole bunch of inspirational and wonderful people… yes we are definitely planning to be in attendance in two years’ time.