The 2019 Australian International Airshow, better known as Avalon, was held in late February. I joined Mike Cahill and Sam Keenan, staying in an apartment in Williamstown, a quaint waterfront suburb of Melbourne. It was an easy drive to the air show with minimal traffic to encounter.
We arrived at Avalon early Friday morning. It was hot, dry and dusty, with a northerly wind blowing for most of the time, making it almost unbearable unless you were in the shade. We started to make our way through the many exhibits. With the temperature sitting in the high 30’s we soon decided to check out everything inside the halls, taking advantage of the air conditioning. Eventually we had to brave the heat outside and inspect the many rows of GA, military and commercial aircraft both new and old that were on display.
The flying program kicked off at 1400 hours with various displays by a USAF C17 Globemaster, C47 Hercules and the very impressive F22 Raptor.
Not to be outdone, the combined airborne and ground based displays from the RAAF, Australian Navy and Australian Army showed off their arsenal of equipment. This was very impressive.
The finale however was the low level flyover of the C47 Herc with all nav lights out, which was the trigger for the “wall of fire” and the best fireworks display I had ever seen.
Joining the thousands on exit rows to the Princes Highway we slowly made our way out of the show and back to Williamstown.
Saturday dawned and we were in for another very hot and uncomfortable day. Sam and Mike made their way to the Qantas 747-400, VH-OEB “Queen of the Skies”, that flew in from Sydney, making a low level approach at Avalon.
Qantas arranged a special charter flight from Sydney to Avalon return at a cost of $747 per seat, to raise money for Rural Aid. The flight was booked out. Well done Qantas! The wing provided some much needed shade for the visitors.
The airshow was pretty much a repeat of the Friday show but we managed to see things we’d not noticed the day before and were able to see a repeat of some of the best parts.
Mike and Sam decided to take a helicopter flight and with a bit of gentle persuasion had front row seats beside the captain in a Eurocopter EC 130 for a 10 minute flight over Avalon.
They could see the size of the air show and its close proximity to Port Phillip Bay.
The Avalon Air Show was over for another two years for us. We drove back early to avoid the traffic chaos and had time for a quiet meal and a few beers as we discussed our favourite parts of the air show. Sunday morning we had brekky at a nice cafe just around the corner in Williamstown, after which I drove to Mt Gambier, while Sam and Mike drove out to Tullamarine and took their respective kero burners to Brisbane.