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Sky high interest in Edinburgh Air Show return

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Thousands are expected to head to Adelaide’s northern outskirts on the weekend when the Royal Australian Air Force hosts its first Edinburgh Air Show in 12 years.

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The November 9-10 event will include air and ground displays of many of the RAAF’s latest acquisitions including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the P-8A border patrol aircraft, which will be based in Adelaide.

The air show also coincides with the centenary of the first epic flight from London to Darwin by South Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith.

The Smith brothers left England in their Vickers Vimy on November 12, 1919, and flew into Darwin on 10 December to claim first prize in the Great Air Race.

The theme of the Edinburgh Air Show is Vimy to Fifth Generation in 100 Years, and a range of vintage aircraft will be on display from a Vickers Vimy model through to Tiger Moths, WWII Hurricanes and Spitfires and first-generation jets including the Meteor and Sabre.

Modern aircraft on display in the air and on the ground across the weekend include the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, the C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter and the C-17A Globemaster III.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s aerobatic display team the Roulettes will perform their first “high show” at an air show in their new Pilatus PC-21 aircraft, which replaced the PC-9A earlier this year.

The Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes will fly their new Pilatus PC-21 aircraft in an air show for the first time at Edinburgh on the weekend. Picture: Brenton Kwaterski/Department of Defence.

Among the highlights of the non-defence planes will include an aerial display by former RAAF fighter pilot Matt Hall, who is the current Red Bull Air Race World Champion and will take to the skies in his race plane.

Crowds can expect to see more than four hours of flying displays each day between 9am and 5pm and there will also be ground demonstrations including drone racing and a lunchtime Australian Army assault demonstration with an Abrams Battle Tank.

Head of Air Shows Air Commodore Noddy Sawade said almost all of the RAAF’s key aircraft had changed since 2007.

He said about 25,000 people were expected to attend each day.

“It was Edinburgh’s turn but we also wanted it to line up with the Epic Flight and have a theme of Vimy to Fifth Generation in 100 years just to give people the understanding that the cutting edge 100 years ago was a wood, wire and fabric bi-plane and they can also look at what an F-35 can do,” Air Commodore Sawade said.

“We know that the Smith brothers are well known in South Australia and it gives the state recognition that is has been in this business for a long time and will be for a long time to come.

“We haven’t got the Vickers Vimy from Adelaide Airport but we’ve got a pretty impressive model and that will be on display with a lot of the Ross and Keith Smith memorabilia.”

The last major RAAF air show was held in Townsville in 2016.

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail arrives at the Australian Defence Force’s main operating base in the Middle East region. Picture: Dan Pinhorn/Department of Defence.

RAAF Base Edinburgh is home to 3500 RAAF and Australian Army personnel and key defence primes including BAE Systems, Raytheon Australia and Airbus Group Australia Pacific.

Major recent investments are being made to support the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft fleet and the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles, which will also be based at Edinburgh.

The Australian Government has committed to acquiring 15 of the Boeing P-8A Poseidons between 2016 and 2023 to replace its AP-3C Orion fleet.

“All of those P8 aircraft will be based out of Edinburgh so they will be a familiar sight in the South Australian skies and they are going to do both static and flying displays at the air show so it will be great for people to see that as well,” Air Commodore Sawade said.

“It’s our major southern base and it’s had a lot of work done to it to accommodate the new P-8s and the Triton down the track.”

Parking will not be allowed on the air base for the event. Free shuttle buses will instead be used to take people from Elizabeth South train station and designated off-base car parks.

Air Commodore Sawade said there had been great change at the base since the last air show was held there in 2007 including a runway extension to accommodate the P-8s and a number of new buildings for the Australian Army’s 1 Brigade.

A RAAF P-8A Poseidon supports sea trials for the NUSHIP Hobart in Gulf St Vincent off the coast of Adelaide. Picture: Craig Barrett/Department of Defence

“As they come through the base on the bus from the car park or the train station they’ll get a good view of the new tarmac being constructed, the hangars and into the show site, which is at Air Movement so they’ll get to see that as well,” he said.

“The base has changed a lot and is considered extremely important in our surveillance and response type operations.”

About 600 Year 9 high school students are at a STEM day on the base today, aimed at inspiring them to take up an aerospace career.

The air show will also feature a commercial trades hall where more than 60 exhibitors will have stands to showcase their capabilities to the public.

“We’re well aware of the intent for South Australia to be top of the pack when it comes to defence industries in the future so the commercial hall really is showing off a lot of that industry – not just the big multi-national companies but the small local companies will be on display and they’ll be able to show their contributions to things like the F-35 program and a few others,” Air Commodore Sawade said.

“It will give everyone a good understanding of where we are in South Australia but also what young people can aspire to and I think that’s terrific.”

General admission tickets are $30 for adults, $10 for children and $60 for a family of four.

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