• The crowd watches an engine start on the HARS Super Constellation at WOI 2016. (Steve Hitchen)
    The crowd watches an engine start on the HARS Super Constellation at WOI 2016. (Steve Hitchen)

Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park, NSW, is set to become the focus of Australia's general aviation community in just on one month's time.

From 5-7 May, the airport will host both the Aviatex expo and the Wings over Illawarra (WOI) air show over three days, attracting a bumper crowd of both aviation community and general public.

Friday 5 May is reserved for trade visitors only and won't be open to the general public, allowing the aviation community and aviation companies to engage more effectively.

Aviatex is the first of what is hoped to be an annual event, and is aimed squarely at the recreational, light sport and general aviation markets.

Companies such as Tecnam, Cirrus, Evektor, Bose, AvPlan and Heliflite have booked space for Aviatex, with both CASA and Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) also committing.

As well as being a showcase for aviation products and services, Aviatex will also feature briefings, seminars and info sessions from governemt bodies, associations and private enterprise.

"Being located on Sydney's doorstep and within easy reach of Canberra it will provide a magnificent opportunity for aviation businesses in Australia to showcase and network within this dynamic industry and to expose a whole new audience to affordable flying possibilities," says organiser Bright Events.

"Aviatex will provide the perfect occasion to view and compare the latest products, equipment and services for the aviation industry from many renowned companies."

The accompanying WOI air show has had a chequered history thanks to disruptive weather, but the 2016 showed what WOI can be and put on one of the best shows seen in Australia.

With support from the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) the Royal Australian Air Force, the Temora Aviation Museum and private operators, WOI 2016 didn't lack for entertainment and interest, and the potential line-up for 2017 shows a repeat performance is very much a reality.

WOI 2017 is expected to feature the HARS collection of prop-liners, headed by the iconic Super Constellation, DC3 and Convair 440. In addition, any number of warbirds could stick their noses in, from P-40s, Mustangs, Spitfires and even jets like the Albatros and Sabre.

Complementing that is sure to be a very healthy contingent from the RAAF. If last year is any indication of the level of support the air force is extending to WOI, we could see just about anything short of an F-35 in action. Naturally, any flying program at any air show is at the mercy of operational considerations and unforeseen gremlins, so only the unwordly make guarantees.

And with Australia's great aviation hero Matt Hall confirming his attendance once again, the crowd won't be short of energetic aerobatics to watch. With others such as Paul Bennet putting in last year, the aero show was good enough to rival any in Australia.

With the major population centres of Sydney, Canberra, Goulburn and Wollongong to draw from, WOI is perfectly placed to become the second most important air show after Avalon, and the display line-up has always confirmed that.

With Aviatex also set to be a success this year and possibly into the future, Albion Park is gradually establishing itself as a centre of great importance for the Australian general aviation community.

More information is on the Wings over Illawarra website and the Aviatex website.

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