Despite having to brave chilly conditions, many hundreds of aviation enthusiasts attended the Wentworth Airport’s Fly-in and Open Day last Saturday.
The day attracted a wide array of different light aircraft on display, both on the ground and in the air.
The event, which was hosted by the Sunraysia Sport Aircraft Club, featured a Tiger Moth that periodically took to the air and a favourite with the crowds was John Waters’ scaled-down, replica Spitfire which was parked on the tarmac for people to see close-up and it also flew several flights during the day.
Visitors to the airport were also treated to a display of vintage cars and motorbikes and they enjoyed a sausage or a steak from the barbecue, and scones with jam and cream, with tea and coffee.
Sunraysia Sport Aircraft Club president, Rod Taylor said that the annual event is always well patronised with people coming from far and wide to enjoy the day.
“We’re delighted to be able to hold the open day this year not being able to have it last year due to COVID and so we were a little bit uncertain about how it was all going to go this year, but it’s all worked out well,” Mr Taylor said.
“It is an annual event held on the Queen’s Birthday weekend and we are very pleased with the turnout of people and visiting pilots.
“The upgrade to the airport is fantastic and the Wentworth Shire’s interaction with the pilots and members here has been marvellous and they have set out to make it as user friendly as they can and we are very proud of it.
“We are hopeful that the north-south dissecting strip will be upgraded and bituminised and lighting put on that as well.”
The event this year comes as the Wentworth Airport is close to completing its more than $9 million upgrade, which has seen a new, sealed 1500-metre by 23-metre runway constructed and bitumen taxi ways and ramps on the tarmac for the aircraft to park on.
The airport will now be an attractive destination for general aviation aircraft owners, with the all-weather landing strip and a pilot-activated lighting system which enables 24-hour access.
Mr Waters and his Spitfire are well known in the district with his fly-overs of Henderson Park and the city on Anzac and Remembrance Day.
“I haven’t done that for a couple of years. Last year was out because of COVID and this year the airport was still closed out here so we couldn’t fly,” he said.
“It’s a close to 90 per cent copy of a Spitfire. The fuselage is 90 per cent of the size of the Spitfire, the wings 75 per cent.
“The horsepower is probably about a sixth of the full-size aircraft.”
Mr Waters’ Spitfire is powered by a V6 Isuzu car engine which delivers 280 horsepower, enabling the replica World War 2 fighter plane to cruise at 160 knots (almost 300 kilometres an hour).
The aircraft was built in Wentworth over a period of four years and was completed in 2011.
Mr Waters was also complementary about the airport’s upgrade.
“The upgrade is tremendous, particularly the sealed parking area for the aircraft. Previously it was terrible. If it rained, you’d get stuck in the mud − now it’s really good and a credit to the Wentworth Shire,” he said.