Wednesday, 11 August 2021 marks 100 years since the opening of Essendon Fields Airport, making it one of the oldest operating airports in the world.
Unfortunately, due to current state border closures and lockdowns across Melbourne and Sydney, the airport was forced to postpone its centenary Open Day celebrations to 9 October 2021.
The Open Day will offer aircraft displays, joy flights, flight simulator experiences, historical walking tours, a classic car show, and more, according to the airport.
Formally established in 1921, the current Essendon Airport site has been an aviation hub since 1919, frequented often by the Australian Aero Club, on what was then dubbed St John’s airfield.
By 1923, the growing airport was officially titled Essendon Aerodrome, and spent decades as a key base for local aviators.
In 1926, a crowd of over 100,000 attended Essendon to watch Sir Alan Cobham make history as the first pilot to complete a return trip from England to Australia.
He departed River Medway in the UK in a De Havilland D.H. 50J aircraft on 30 June 1926, and touched down at Essendon on 15 August.
From 1950, Essendon became Australia’s second international airport, operating as Melbourne’s primary airport for both domestic and international flights, until the opening of Melbourne Tullamarine Airport in 1970.
Since then, Essendon has remained a hub for general aviation, regional RPT, charter, freight and EMS operations.
An event marking 100 years since the airport was established on 11 August 1921 was delivered online on Wednesday morning, with plans for a large gathering scrapped.
Hosted by TV presenter Nicky Buckley, the centenary event featured comments from Victorian member for Essendon Danny Pearson, Victorian Minister for Transport Ben Carroll and entertainer Olivia Newton-John, who recounted her own memories of Essendon Airport in its heyday.
Essendon Fields CEO Brendan Pihan also spoke, outlining contribution the airport has made to the surrounding community and the plans for the future.
“Today marks the actual birthday of Essendon Aerodrome, making it one of the oldest airports in the world,” Pihan said in a live-streamed event marking the centenary.
The event also featured appearances from TV presenter Nicky Buckley, Victorian MP for Essendon Danny Pearson, Victorian Minister for Transport Ben Carroll and none other than the one and only Olivia Newton-John.
“With everything that’s been achieved here over the past 100 years, what is most exciting is what’s to come,” Pihan said.
“Essendon Fields will remain a vital aviation link for Victoria and also a key employment precinct in both aviation and non-aviation businesses.”
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