A massive flyover of the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Oberon and Bathurst is being planned by the Businesses Supporting the Bicentenary and the Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism as part of the activities marking the Bicentenary of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth's Blue Mountains crossing. They shared with me some interesting insights into their plans for the Bicentenary Flyover.
Matt Hall / Image courtesy of Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism
The organisers are trying to involve up to 300 different aircraft from helicopters to small private fixed wing aircraft to World War II fighters and modern day military jets in this historic record event on 25 May 2013. Airborne participants will follow a similar path to that blazed by the three explorers, Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth and Lieutenant Lawson in 1813. They are also working with the RAAF for assistance with resources such as staging areas and aircraft participation.
This novel idea of a flyover to bring aviators together and enable thousands of people to view the event and celebrate the Bicentenary from within their local communities originated from Philip Hammon, owner of Scenic World at Katoomba. A director of Businesses Supporting the Bicentenary, Philip believes that a flyover is something that demonstrates just how far the region has come in the last 200 years since Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth made their historic journey.
Congratulating Philip on his initiative, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker feels that to celebrate one milestone in Australia's history by creating another which promises to be one of the most spectacular ever to have occurred in the Blue Mountains is a wonderful masterstroke. Chairman Randall believe the celebration of a crossing by foot 200 years ago with a crossing by air, with historic aircraft will be an unforgettable experience.
Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham, Flyover director Matt Hall and Bathurst Mayor Monica Mose / Image courtesy of Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism
Coordinating the event on behalf of the Businesses Supporting the Bicentenary and Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism is Matt Hall, Australia's leading aerobatic display pilot and former RAAF Wing Commander, who served time in combat over Iraq while on exchange with the US Air Force in 2003. Matt had a decorated 18-year military career in RAAF and was also Australia's only ever representative in the Red Bull Air Race, the Formula One of the sky.
Matt shared with me that objective of the flyover is to give people the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth and see just how far Australia has come in the last 200 years since the trio made their historic journey. Significantly, just as the explorers were breaking new ground in 1813, it's hoped the flyover can be the biggest coordinated flyover in Australian history.
To achieve the objective, Matt and the organisers are looking for aviators with aircraft of all shapes and sizes to be involved in this co-ordinated flyover before the end of the year. This is a rare opportunity for aviators to be part of history where they will be in the same formation as hundreds of other aircraft. A thorough application and qualification process is being finalised to ensure the smooth and most importantly, safe running of the event.
Matt wants pilots who are willing to be part of a well organised team striving to give the people on the ground a safe event to remember. This includes pilots from all over Australia, neighbours like New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia and as far afield as the Middle East, US and Europe. All they need is something to fly and meet the relevant application and qualification processes. Aviators can register by emailing their interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philip Hammon, Matt Hall and BMLOT board member Eric Sward at Bathurst Regional Airport / Image courtesy of Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism
Spectators are not forgotten. The organsiers shared with me that discussions are underway about a public event at Bathurst Airport where the flyover will conclude, allowing spectators to see the aircraft on the ground, take joy flights and purchase memorabilia. Viewing areas are being planned for Penrith, Glenbrook, Springwood, Hazelbrook, Wentworth Falls, Katoomba, Blackheath, Mt York, Lithgow, Oberon and Bathurst. Philip explained that the viewing areas all the way from Penrith through the Blue Mountains to Bathurst will allow people to see what is going to be a spectacular event that the entire community can get involved in, as in past events like in the Botanic Gardens, the Festival of Walking and the Leura Garden Festival.
This flyover has the potential to be one of the largest gatherings of aircraft in Australian history and readers can help. If you have a family member or friend who is an aviator, please share this article to them. With your support, the organisers might just be able to get a Fairchild, Airbus or Boeing commercial jet to join them.