Eyes on the sky for spectacular Jamestown air event

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By Gabrielle Hall

All eyes will be on the sky above Jamestown’s Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome on Sunday, October 21, as the local flying group presents its triennial Air Spectacular.

The Jamestown Flying Group’s 11th air show promises to live up to its spectacular name, and World War II and vintage aircraft buffs and adrenaline seekers alike will be in their element.

A rare World War II Hawker Hurricane XII fighter aircraft never before seen in South Australia will be drawcard for the 2018 event.

Used during the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane aircraft is largely ‘under-rated’, having shot down more enemy aircraft than the better-known Spitfire.

The restored Hurricane now based in Scone, New South Wales, is the only plane of its type in existence in the southern hemisphere.

The Hawker Hurricane XII fighter aircraft will visit SA for the first time this October.

Aircraft co-ordinator for the event, Jim Best, says it was a major coup to secure the Hurricane and the air spectacular event will give spectators the opportunity to see it in action for the first time in SA.

“The plane will fly in for the event, it will do aerobatic manoeuvres similar to what they would have done in a dog fight (aerial combat within close range),” he says.

Hurricane pilot Paul Bennet will be in control and says spectators can expect to see him perform loops, rolls and wing-overs in the $4 million aircraft.

“It’s massive really for the event to get this aircraft,” he says.

“There’s every chance it will probably be the first and last time it goes to SA, the furthest it’s travelled so far has been the Illawarra Airshow in NSW.”

Just 2.5 hours drive from Adelaide in the Mid North of SA, Jamestown will be abuzz all weekend, with spectators on Sunday treated to some skilful flying by some of Australia’s best pilots and a fleet of rare aircraft.

A past pyrotechnics display and re-enactment at the Jamestown Air Spectacular. Photo by N Daw.

Among the other features will be an Australian-built Wirraway, Jim Whalley with his rare, historic Boomerang aircraft and Gazelle helicopter, a Grumman Avenger and other antique aircraft.

A heart-stopping aerobatics display by legendary pilots Chris Sperou and Paul Bennet, a dog fight re-enactment, a locally-owned General Grant tank and pyrotechnics display will all feature.

Behind the spectacular event is a small but dedicated group of flying and aircraft enthusiasts and community volunteers.

The Jamestown Flying Group (JFG) has just 28 financial members in a small community, but president Danny Keller says local support, the Friends of the Jamestown Flying Group, and sponsorship made the event possible.

Started more than 30 years ago, the JFG has worked tirelessly over the years, with fundraising and pure hard work to get the Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome established to now include an all-weather bitumen strip, lighting, clubrooms and hangars.

It is a vital local asset, providing a safe landing spot for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and other emergency services.

A bird’s eye view of the Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome at Jamestown, which will host the 11th triennial Air Spectacular this October. Photo by N Daw.

The flying group was borne from an incident which saw a retrieval plane clip trees at the end of a short, dirt air strip as it flew out with a patient, local doctor John Shepherd and ambulance officer and founding club member Tony Leesong all on board.

The close-call led to a handful of locals starting the group to develop a more adequate facility. The airstrip was lengthened, lights installed, surfaced with rubble and then eventually bitumen to make it the all-weather landing site it is today.

Club members also made many night-time dashes to the airstrip to turn the landing lights on in preparation for the RFDS to land safely for retrievals in what signifies a true, community effort.

The Australian-built Wirraway will be among the vintage aircraft flying in to Jamestown on October 21. Photo by Darren Mottram.

Last financial year, the RFDS landed 71 times at the Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome for emergency retrievals and medical transfers.

“It’s used by the RFDS, for fire water bombers and general aviation access to the community,” Danny Keller says.

“It’s a very important facility and asset to the community and over the years the JFG has supported the RFDS through our Air Spectacular event.

“This year however, any proceeds from the event have been committed to the Jamestown Hospital auxiliary to support its refurbishment project.”

The air show beings on Sunday, October 21, at 10.45am (gates open at 7am) through until 4pm.

For bookings and information visit the website or Facebook page.

Header photo: A Jamestown Flying Group archive photo by Clive Palmer.

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