• The escarpment west of Albion Park Rail makes a spectacular back drop for Wings over Illawarra. (Tony Crampton)
    The escarpment west of Albion Park Rail makes a spectacular back drop for Wings over Illawarra. (Tony Crampton)

Bright Events, organisers of the annual Wings over Illawarra (WOI) air show, is expecting to attract 40,000 visitors to this year's event.

The two-day show is scheduled for 4-5 May at Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park Rail in NSW. It is Australia's largest annual air show.

This year's show will be the 12th time the event has been held, growing from a fly-in that attracted 5-10,000 people to a slick and professional event that now adds around $7 million to the economy of the Illawarra region.

Last year, 35,000 people passed through the gates, a figure which the organisers expect to surpass this year.

Speaking at the official launch on Tuesday, state MP for Kiama Gareth Ward reinforced the NSW government's support for WOI and highlighted the importance of the event to the region.

“Last year, the air show delivered over 4800 overnight visitors to the beautiful South Coast region," Ward said, "and between them they injected $1.4 million into the local visitor economy.

"Drawing visitors to rural and regional NSW is a key priority for the NSW Government, which is why we have invested record funding to allow the State’s tourism industry to grow and grow."

Bright Events Director Kerry Bright said that they were expecting solid support once again from the Australian Defence Force.

"This will be the first time many of the aircraft taking part in the airshow will be seen in the Illawarra, in particular the new Pilatus PC-21 RAAF training aircraft that the RAAF Roulette’s will be displaying," she said.

“In addition to this there will also be an impressive line-up of other notable Australian Defence Force aircraft, including fast jets such as the Hawk plus the C-17 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules, C-27 Spartan and of course frontline Navy and Army helicopters all taking part in the action over the weekend."

With only a month to go until the show opens, the line-up of aircraft is already looking impressive. As well as the ADF contingent, the organisers are expecting many classic warbirds and aerobatic aces, including:

  • Spitfire MK.XVI
  • Focke Wulf FW-190
  • Curtis P-40 Kittyhawk
  • CA-18 Mk21 Mustang
  • Mk XII/IIB Hawker Hurricane
  • TBM-3E Grumman Avenger
  • CA-27 Sabre MK32
  • The Russian Roolettes
  • Red Bull air-racer Matt Hall
  • Paul Bennet and the Skyaces.

As in previous years, many ground displays are expected to support the flying program, including classic cars, carnival rides and free access to all Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) aircraft that are open for inspection.

More information is available on the Wings over Illawarra website.

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