Not just a blokey event, Wings over Illawarra is an air show of aerobatics and much more, with action packed entertainment for the whole family. This annual event has extended from one day to two, over the first weekend in May. Located at Illawarra Regional Airport, it is an easily reachable 100km from Sydney, and only 20km south of Wollongong.
Multiple aerobatics stunt pilots will have us in awe as they soar through the sky and twist, turn and roll in different flying machines. The exciting performances include Red Bull Air Race competitor Matt Hall, Paul Bennett in his famous Wolf Pitts Pro biplane, Jeff Trappet's CAC CA-18 Mustang, and the RAAF's elite team showing us their style.
You can take to the air yourself, in a helicopter joy flight with Touchdown Helicopters. On the ground, there will be a huge display of aircraft, including privately-owned warbirds, as well as Australian Defence Force aircraft. De Havilland Tiger Moth, Hawker Hunter, Grumman TBM-3 Avenger, and Douglas DC4 are only a few of the many on show. Aviation memorabilia, model aircrafts, and novelties will be available in market stalls to peruse and purchase as you wander around this outdoor airport.
In addition to all the modern, military, and historic aircraft, a large display of classic cars and motorbikes will add to the atmosphere. Each year, car and bike clubs in NSW and ACT are asked to participate and the event sees many vintage vehicles roll up.
If the kids get bored looking at planes, then there's a special Kids Zone set up for them with rides, slides, jumping castles and activities, thanks to McDonald's Illawarra. Most are free; on Sunday, Ronald McDonald will make an appearance between 11am and 1pm. From face painting to showbags, mini Jeep rides, and for the more adventurous, trampoline bungee, there's something to keep them busy.
Food and refreshment stalls will be scattered throughout the site to satisfy your appetite. ATMs will be available. If you're visiting on the Saturday and planning on staying in the area for the weekend, or don't mind driving home at night, then why not enjoy dinner in a jet. The Swing into Wings 747 Dinner is taking place in the Australian Aerial Patrol Hanger at the airport, presented by the Rotary Club of Illawarra Sunrise. Drinks and nibblies are at 6.30pm, followed by dinner at 7.30pm, and dancing to the music of Venetia's Porch. The cost is $80. There will also be a cash bar for additional drinks, a raffle and auction. Tickets are available from trybooking.com
, or by phoning 0408 203 166. Space is limited, so be quick if you want to partake.
Getting to this event is also interesting. There is limited parking available, so train is recommended to Albion Park. The station is opposite the main entrance gate.
You can also take a look at the railway museum with miniature train rides available, opposite the museum, on Tongarra Road. The kids may beckon you for another train ride. For a small fee, there are short steam and diesel train rides, with a connecting shuttle bus to the air show.
For those lucky enough to have their own plane, pilots can fly in to the event, but must pre-register. They receive free entry, but passengers need to pre-purchase a ticket online.
Tickets for the air show vary in price. There is general admission, with single day or two day combined pricing. There are also gold passes, which include reserved parking, seating in the viewing grandstand, souvenir program and cap, exclusive food and beverage vendors, the opportunity to rub shoulders with stars of the show, free steam train rides, and more.
For full details on costs and visitor information, go to the Wings Over Illawarra