Ambitions take flight at Lismore's Aviation Expo
JETFIGHTERS, choppers and a multitude of fixed-wing aircraft were cramming the air space above Lismore as the Aviation Expo ended yesterday afternoon.
The expo ran over two days and gave people a chance to see a range of aircraft up close, and fly in them.
The event was organised by Northern Rivers Aero Club and was designed to involve as many local industries as possible, said Recreational Pilot Centre chief instructor Bill Kiernan said.
Commercial flight operators, joy flight businesses and aircraft sales teams, were there, Mr Kiernan said.
The aero club had hosted air shows but this was its first aviation expo, he said.
The aim was to showcase aviation and allow people to find out what the industry in the region could offer," he said. "A lot of different people came to the expo, that is what it was designed to," Mr Kiernan said.
He said the event could have long-term benefits for the region, with bigger crowds than expected and many youngsters showing interest.
"The kids had a wonderful time; flying is not just for rich old men," he said.
Mr Kiernan said student intake has been down over the past few years, but was picking up, he said.
The Recreational Pilot Centre trains recreational, private and commercial pilots.
Graduates had gone on to fly FA-18s with the RAAF and jumbo jets, with commercial airlines, Mr Kiernan said.
Small, fixed-wing aircraft could be bought for $90,000, and luxury versions for more than $600,000.
Aviation mechanic Les Selwood had helped build plenty of small aircraft including one on show at the expo.
Mr Selwood said it was not uncommon for planes to be constructed from kits at Lismore Aviation Centre.
He said planes for private use had less stringent safety standards than those for commercial use, he said.
A light plane could travel at 300kmh and easily reach Sydney on a tank of fuel, he said.
Helicopter rides and jet fighter adventure flights were a highlight of the expo.
Jet Fighter had run close to 20 flights, most of which were pre-booked, operations manager Bronwyn Sanger said.
The Jet Fighter visited Lismore four times a year, and this visit pilots included current RAFF squadron leader Jason Easthope.
Mr Kiernan said the expo was well supported by Lismore Council, which also supported the development of a local aviation hub, Mr Kiernan said.
Experienced aviators from Recreational Pilot Centre also delivered seminars on a range of flying subjects during the expo.