Australia Day City of Perth Air Show 2017 will be held over the Swan River, in the centre of Perth, Western Australia from 3.30pm to 8pm on Thursday 26 January 2017.
Australia Day is a national holiday celebrated annually on 26 January, marking the anniversary of the first British settlement in Australia, in 1788.
“Air show in a bucket”
Australia Day City of Perth Air Show is quite a unique event, held in a ‘bucket’ measuring roughly 3 by 1.5 kilometres. It is bordered along the northern foreshore by the skyscrapers of Perth city (some over 800 feet tall), high-rise apartments along the South Perth foreshore, the Causeway bridge to the east, and the Narrows Bridge and Kings Park (and 200-foot tall Mount Eliza) to the west.
The event attracts up to 300,000 people, and last year’s air show was the biggest to date, with 85 pilots flying 105 flights.
This is now the only regular large aviation event held in Perth, apart from the annual fly-in at Serpentine Airfield.
Similar to last year, the 2017 show includes large formations of vintage and modern light aircraft; aerial fire fighting demonstrations; displays by a fast jets, helicopters, and aerobatics aircraft; flypasts by a Fokker 100 jet airliner, Dornier 328 rescue aircraft, and Royal Flying Doctor Service Pilatus PC-12 aircraft; as well as skydiving.
Western Australia played a pioneering role in the development of aviation in Australia. Perth-based Norman Brearley held the first Australian civil pilot’s licence and in 1921, he started Australia’s first regular airline service. This was based at Langley Park, which formed a backdrop to the air show.
Flying Program (subject to change)
Formation Of Aircraft With Open Canopy:
VH-YDF / 4269 / 591Boeing B75N1 (N2S-3) Stearman, flown by Werner Buhlmann
VH-YND / “42–755362 / 362” Boeing E75 (N2S-5) Stearman, Carl Ende
VH-URC Boeing A75N1 Stearman (PT-17 Kaydet), Rod Edwards
VH-WQW Great Lakes 2T-1A-2 Sport Trainer, Franc Smit
VH-ZJP Eurocopter AS350B2 Squirrel – airborne camera
VH-WPX / POLAIR 62 Eurocopter AS365N3+ Dauphin 2 of WA Police Air Wing
Organising the air show
Corporate jet pilot Werner Buhlmann has been instrumental in organising and participating in the Australia Day City of Perth Air Show every year since it began in 1993, when it featured three Tiger Moths in formation.
Werner started the show to promote aviation and share the passion of flying with others.
Werner is the Chief Pilot for WGH Aviation (formerly Wellard Aviation) and for the past 8 years, he has flown their Bombardier Challenger 601 VH-VRE. He is an experienced pilot, with over 18,000 flying hours in 130 different types of aircraft.
He says “This is a very unique air show, because it is remote from the airport and in the middle of the city, which generates its own challenges. I call it the Air Show in the Bucket, because there are spectators all around, hence one is a bit limited with what can be done. One of the most enjoyable aspects is the camaraderie amongst all the pilots and different flying organisations.”
The City of Perth sponsors the event to a degree, but most of the participants do it voluntarily, as part of the Australia Day spirit and because they love flying.
“Organising the air show starts about six months before the event and then intensifies during the last couple of months.”
“In the beginning, I organised the show, then I did it as part of the Royal Aero Club of Western Australia. Over the last 10 years or so, it has been organised in conjunction with the Russell Lanyon at the City of Perth. He tenders out the water and air entertainment leading up to the fireworks display, sending out invitation letters to all the organisations and individuals, then he asks me to organise the program, approvals, and briefings,” Werner said.
“They seem to enjoy the participation, so it is not too hard to encourage them to join again each year. The vintage pilots I have known for over 25 years and I did most of their formation endorsements when I was a flying instructor at the Royal Aero Club for 17 years. I make sure the passion rubs off when I talk to them!”
Besides all of the arrangements involved, Werner flies in the show himself. Last year, he flew in two formations whilst piloting Boeing Sterarman VH-YDF, and three helicopter flights in Robinson R22 VH-JHM. Werner says “It is a fantastic way to celebrate Australia Day. It is rewarding to see it all come together and to be able to be part of the flying displays at such a unique location.”
The Royal Aero Club of Western Australia provide the facilities and framework, as well as flying about 25 sorties. Rotorvation participates with its entire helicopter fleet.
Other participants included Adrian Thomas and Sue Clarke, who are the leading display flying team in WA. Jenny Schmidt, a former Chief Flying Instructor at RACWA and now Deputy Chief Pilot for the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW), travels 500 kilometres from Albany each year to be the display manager.
Werner says other aircraft from around Australia are welcome to participate, and seaplanes from the Eastern States have taken part in the air show in the past.