7 March 2022

Canberra Airport flying high again as Open Day scheduled for landing

| James Coleman
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Canberra airport open day

Crowds at a previous Open Day at Canberra Airport: Photo: Canberra Airport, Facebook.

The skies have been noticeably quieter for the past couple of years but, to celebrate a return to business as usual for the aviation industry, Canberra Airport has announced its ever-popular Open Day will be back next month.

The Canberra Airport Open Day is booked in for Sunday, 3 April, from 9 am to 3 pm, treating Canberrans to big jets, small planes and heritage aircraft on the ground and screaming aerobatic displays overhead.

Supported by the Historical Aviation Restorations Society (HARS), Department of Defence, Australian Federal Police, ACT Policing, Emergency Services Agency and the airport’s airline partners, the Open Day is normally a biennial event but was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Canberra Airport Head of Aviation Michael Thomson said it’s time to show the community that aviation is well and truly back.

“We think the timing is perfect to host this event – restrictions have eased, travel is slowly returning, our international borders are open, and we want to thank the community for their support during the past two years.”

Not only will it allow punters to more closely inspect regular passenger carriers from Qantas and Virgin, but other specialist aircraft are also flying in from the HARS museum near Wollongong for the occasion.

Either way, there’ll be plenty to give attendees a renewed appreciation for the machines that fulfil humankind’s timeless ambition to fly.

Pilatus PC-21

A Pilatus PC-21. Photo: Canberra Airport.

Among the exhibits will be the Pilatus PC-21. The world’s most advanced pilot-training aircraft, it is capable of sustained low-level speeds over 590 km/h while its hydraulically-assisted ailerons and roll spoilers mean it can replicate fighter-like aerial rolls.

There will also be a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat. One of the most famous aircraft types ever built, it served with distinction during World War II, combatting submarines, laying mines, spying, and supporting Special Forces and Search and Rescue operations.

A Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina. Photo: Jeff Gilbert.

The Caribou is designed to be at home on the battlefield, where there usually isn’t the luxury of a long runway. It was designed to US Army specifications to land on rough dirt runways or roads right near the battlefront to quickly resupply troops and evacuate wounded.

The Grumman S-2G Tracker was also designed to takeoff and land in small spaces, in this case, aircraft carriers. Its main role was to protect the carriers by detecting and hunting enemy submarines using its retractable Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) boom – an airborne metal detector fitted with waterproof floating microphones that could hear the submarine underwater.

Grumman S-2G Tracker.

A Grumman S-2G Tracker. Photo: Canberra Airport.

As well as static displays, there will be action in the air. Spare a moment for Paul Bennet and the Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes, who will be experiencing forces six times the strength of gravity while undertaking thrilling aerobatic displays in the sky overhead.

The Roulettes are trained to fly as low as 80 metres at speeds of up to 685 km/h. Flying as close as three metres apart, the team showcases the level of visual judgement and hand-eye coordination that isn’t included in your average pilot’s training.

To top it all off, there will be a wide range of local food offerings including burgers, crepes, coffee and fresh juices and premium local products at the Pialligo Estate and Altina Drinks Lounge.

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Entry to the Open Day is free but, as spaces are limited, tickets are essential. Several of the aircraft ask for an entry donation of $5 for adults, $2 for children, and $10 for a family. An ATM will be available, but it’s recommended you bring some cash with you.

Parking is available at Majura Park near Catalina Drive. Accessible parking is available off Nomad Drive, opposite Canberra Helicopters. These car parks allow close access to the event area via hard surfaces for those who require it.

A free park-and-ride shuttle service will operate every 15 minutes from Russell Hill and the City bus station to accommodate large crowds.

Visit Eventbrite to get tickets or for more information.

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