Evans Head comes alive
THE GREAT Eastern Fly-In brought the skies over Evans Head to life on the weekend as hundreds of aircraft descended upon the town providing joy flights, breathtaking stunt flying and static air displays.
Co-ordinator Gai Taylor was flush with gratitude and joy yesterday afternoon as she took stock of the event.
“It was absolutely brilliant,” she declared.
“The weather was fabulous, aircraft were amazing and the crowds were huge. We had about 10,000 here over the weekend.
“This place is truly unique. There’s no aerodrome like it on the east coast.
“It was an amazing community event from the committee and the volunteers, to the businesses and locals who supported it, and the aviators and enthusiasts who gave their time for nothing.”
Big crowds welcomed the eclectic collection of barnstormers and helped celebrate the 70th anniversary of the No1 bombing and gunnery schools at the Memorial Aerodrome.
The military theme was reinforced with an impressive display of restored vintage aircraft, from Wirraways and Mustangs to the bigger Avenger torpedo bomber.
Champion Red Bull pilot Matt Hall astounded the crowds with his stunt flying.
Matt, a former RAAF combat jet fighter pilot, is the only Australian pilot on the international Red Bull circuit.
When asked if he preferred competition flying to combat flying he said the competition was actually more challenging skill-wise.
“But it’s a different emotion,” he said.
“Combat flying is all about staying alive. You can’t really measure perfection unless you’re using weapons.”
Collector and pilot Steve Searle, from Beaudesert Aviation Museum, brought five fine military specimens from his collection that had all seen combat action.
“We came down to support the show and the people of Evans Head,” he said.
“It is so important to our history we must preserve it. There is terrific potential here at Evans Head and we love bringing our planes down.
“I’ve been passionate about flying since I was a kid, but it’s only lately I’ve been able to afford it.
Mr Searle brought down two Avengers, a Wirraway trainer and a classic fabric-lined Navy Stinson used for reconnaissance and to evacuate the wounded.
“They used to call the Stinson the flying jeep,” he said.
“One pilot used to drop 12-pound bombs from it just to annoy the enemy.
“The Wirraway was the second Australian produced plane and our first primary trainer. There’s only five flying in the world today.
“We’re seeing more and more young people fascinated by these planes, so they are important to retain and pass on that sense of history.”