This past weekend, the first Edinburgh Airshow was hosted since 2007. Despite the 12 year wait, more than 60,000 enthusiastic attendees descended on the military base in Adelaide’s far north, for the simple pleasure of looking at planes. Aerial & static displays from past & present military aircraft lined the normally quiet & solitary air base, to create a hive of activity across the second weekend of November. With the display schedule unchanged on both days, visitors were assured they wouldn’t miss out on anything regardless of which day(s) they chose to attend.
Flying displays kicked off with aerial acrobatics from the RAAF 1FTS Roulettes in their PC-21 aircraft at 1000L. The 6 PC-21 aircraft that travelled from RAAF East Sale for the airshow (A54-032 thru -037) departed in 2 3-ship departure formations on Runway 18, before joining to form a single formation to conduct multiple passes of the airport; performing plenty of loops & inversions to please the crowds appetite.
The PC-21 display then made way for the first of two centerpiece displays for the day; the vintage & heritage aircraft exhibition. This included flyovers from a wide variety of aircraft from different eras, spread over multiple flyovers, including but not limited to: CAC Winjeel, RAAF CT4A, Lockheed Hudson Bomber & CAC Boomerang aircraft.
Current Red Bull Air Race world champion & former F/A-18 & F-15 pilot Matt Hall provided an intermission to the heritage aircraft, showing off to onlookers in his beautifully painted Extra 300L. This was then followed by the conclusion of the heritage displays prior to the lunch interval at 1200L. These final displays included the “European Theatre formation”, comprised of a Hurricane, Spitfire, Mustang and the Russian Roolette team – a mixture of Nanchang CJ-6 & Yak 52 frames, who performed short displays each quite far afield from the base.
Performances from the RAAF Band & a Roulette encore opened the 2nd & final centerpiece of flying for the schedule, with all flying post-lunch being RAAF aircraft. Past & present transport aircraft got things underway – with the Alenia C-27J Spartan & Lockheed C-130 Hercules the star aircraft of this display, as the backlighting set in to make things difficult for those photographing the airshow. This however did not detract from the next display, with the RAAF 3SQN’s brand new Lockheed F-35 Lightning fighter jet aircraft headlining the show in a joint performance with F/A-18 aircraft.
With the list of remaining displays beginning to wear thin, the maritime contingent of the RAAF took the helm, with the AP-3C Orion being overflown by its successor – the highly versatile Boeing P-8A Poseidon, in a “changing of the guard” moment. It was however at this point that the show’s final display could be seen holding in the distance, distracting much of the crowd with its elusiveness.
As it appeared on final for Runway 36, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III A41-209 joined sistership -211 already on the ground as a static display, performing a stunning arrival, coming to a full stop before it reached the runway exit at taxiway Charlie, then using its thrust reversers to return to the RWY36 threshold to depart in a similarly short time. Even the most seasoned aviation enthusiasts were taken aback by the aircraft’s phenomenal capabilities.
The coordination of an airshow is always something to be appreciated from a spectator’s perspective, and this one was no different. After a 12-year hiatus, RAAF Base Edinburgh demonstrated they were more than competent in running an excellent show for a large crowd of families, enthusiasts and photographers. Pair that with the presence of an international visitor in the form of a Royal Air Force 206SQN Airbus A400M from RAF Base Brize Norton, United Kingdom, the Edinburgh Airshow has strong prospects beyond 2019, and could promise to become a strong contender with the Avalon International Airshow on the Airshow calendar in Australia.