The RAAF's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is set to headline the flying display at Wings over Illawarra this year in a program that also features one of the last public events for the F/A-18 Classic Hornet.
It will be the first time the F-35 has been displayed to the public in a full-aerobatic sequence.
Released this week, the flying program also lists the best of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) and the Temora Aviation Museum, including the twin-engined Canberra bomber that has been in deep maintenance for several years.
The WOI program is loaded with RAAF assets both past and present to celebrate the air force's centenary in style, something they've been denied since Avalon 2021 was first postponed, then canceled completely.
"The theme guiding our program was the RAAF centenary," WOI organiser Mark Bright told Australian Flying. "We wanted to showcase some of the older style RAAF aircraft from the HARS fleet in our program, however we also went all in with the big-bang gear – having the first official F-35 Lightening aerobatic display debut at our show is the icing on the cake. It’ll certainly provide no end of entertainment, and a lot of noise!
"To be able to host the final Australian farewell to the F/A-18 Classic Hornets is definitely an honour. We don’t have one, but five Hornets coming to town, and the real draw card is the four-ship display and simulated airfield attack that’ll close out each day.
"It’s also the first time we’ll see the Sabre, Canberra, F-35 and Classic Hornet displaying on the same day, you’d be hard-pressed to experience a flying program as unique as this again any time soon."
Also featuring on the display program are:
- RAAF Roulettes
- RAN Seahawk Romeo
- Focke-Wulf FW190
- Vought F4U Corsair
- Grumman TBM Avenger
- Paul Bennet's Wolf Pitts
- The Sky Aces
- P-40 Kittyhawk
- Matt Hall in his MXS-R
Temora Aviation Museum will also display 100 SQN RAAF's Hudson, Spitfire MK VIII, Boomerang and Wirraway, with HARS contributing their Super Constellation, PV-2 Neptune, PBY Catalina and DHC-4 Caribou.
Bright also said that the road to WOI 2021 had been plagued by COVID uncertainty, significantly increasing his team's workload.
"COVID has been tough on everyone, and we’ve worked really hard to bring this years show to fruition," he said.
"Despite the no end of challenges the past 18 months have thrown our way, we’ve been able to forge ahead and pull off what will be the biggest and best airshow of 2021.
"That is in part thanks to the unwavering support we receive from our Wings community and the aviation industry in general."
Wings over Illawarra is on at Shellharbour Airport, Albion Park Rail, NSW 27-28 November 2022. The full flying program is available on the WOI website.