Wednesday July 23, 2014

Historic flyover to mark historic walk

The flyover will mark the historic first crossing of the Blue Mountains.

As many as 200 aircraft will retrace trail of the first crossing of the Blue Mountains in what organisers say could be among the largest flyovers in Australian history.

Scheduled for May 25, the event will be part of the Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary 2013-2015 program marking the first recognised European crossing of the mountains by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth.

Taking off from several sites around NSW including RAAF Base Richmond, organisers hope the flyover will include a wide range of aircraft from helicopters to small private fixed wing aircraft, World War 2 fighters and modern day military jets. Among the confirmed participants is the renowned RAAF aerobatic team, the Roulettes, and German aviation legend Matthias Dolderer.

Once airborne, aircraft will follow a similar path to the one the three explorers, three convicts, one kangaroo hunter, four horses and five dogs trudged along in 1813.

Spectators will be able to see all the aerial action from special viewing areas at Emu Plains, throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and O’Connell near Oberon.

Former RAAF Wing Commander Matt Hall, Australia’s leading aerobatic display pilot, is co-ordinating the event on behalf of Businesses Supporting the Bicentenary (BSB) and Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism. Hall, who served time in combat over Iraq while on exchange with the US Air Force in 2003, said the flyover had the potential to be one of the largest gatherings of aircraft in Australian history.

“We are looking for aviators with aircraft of all shapes and sizes to be involved in what will be a truly unique experience. To be involved in a co-ordinated flyover like this is something that’ll be pretty cool and we are calling for participants right now.”

Interested parties can contact Hall at joyflights@matthallracing.com.

BSB director Philip Hammon, who owns Scenic World at Katoomba, came up with the idea of a flyover so everyone throughout the community could celebrate one of Australia’s most significant milestones.

“A flyover is something that demonstrates just how far we have come in the last 200 years since Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth made their historic journey,’’ he said.

Indeed, Hammon and fellow Blue Mountains businessman and BSB member Tom Colless from Colless Foods are so passionate about the project they have personally underwritten much of its cost.

“If we don’t put the money in, it won’t happen,’’ Hammon said. “I’m doing it to give tourism in the region a kick – to put heads in beds and bums on seats.’’