Tyabb Airshow 2024

Wide range of vintage, classic and warbird types displayed in great weather at the first Tyabb show since 2020

The 'Balbo' finale of the show, with the Avenger in the lead, Corsair and Mustang in trail, flanked by two T-28s. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]
United Fuel Cells


By James Kightly, Commissioning Editor, and Nigel Hitchman

In Victoria, Australia, another successful Tyabb airshow has been notched up by the Peninsula Aero Club. As always the show managed to touch a remarkably wide diversity of aviation heritage and entertainment, despite challenges from weather and aircraft availability. The core element of the display was provided by Paul Bennet Airshows as contracted by the Aero Club, but the show could not have happened without the 160 strong volunteer team and numerous local individuals and aircraft owners and operators who went above and beyond.

The airfield, near Westernport Bay, is 70 kilometers (45 miles) from Melbourne, the state capital. The airshows at this 1960s airfield have been put on in the southern hemisphere summer since last century, with Vintage Aviation News’ report on the highly successful 2020 event carried here.

Representing American navy carrier power was the Paul Bennet Airshows Grumman Avenger VH-MML (above and below) and is also seen with Tyabb-based Vought F4U-5N Corsair VH-III. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]

With the powerful nose of the Corsair in the foreground, a range of Australian and American military trainers present their bright noses in the static park. [Photo by James Kightly]

The Australian Defence Force participation was relatively low compared to previous years, with a single, almost sneak pass by the 37 Squadron Lockheed C-130 Hercules, and a solo aerobatic demonstration by a Pilatus PC-21 from the Roulettes. The 100 Squadron RAAF participation was unavoidably curtailed from the original plan by serviceability, and consisted of the CAC Winjeel in the Heritage Trainers formation and the unit’s CAC Mustang.

The familiar Heritage Trainers team were, on this occasion, a new combination of four CAC Winjeels and a single PAC CT-4 and a non-Australian interloper, the Vultee BT-13, with breakout aerobatic displays.

First vintage act as a three-ship Southern Knights Harvard display, retaining their usual standard with Harvards in RNZAF and SAAF colors, and a third in a SNJ scheme. Two Harvards flew again to escort Doug Hamilton and Steve Bekker in Doug’s Beech 18 in a fictitious South East Asia RAAF scheme. A two-ship NAA T-28 Trojan display was flown by Paul Bennet in Judy Pay’s VH-NAW with Steve Death in Mike Murphy’s VH-CIA.

Doug Hamilton’s Beech 18 VH-FID wears a convincing, if fictitious, Australian Pacific War scheme. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]

The helicopter display consisted of the local celebrity rotorcraft, ‘Larry’ the Bell 47 VH-RTO; ex-Australian Army CAC Kiowa flown by Nick Pay, and show stalwart Jim Wickham in the Robinson R22. Separately the ‘VicPol’ (Victoria Police Air Wing) demonstrated their work in their Leonardo AW139 helicopter.

The exciting modern aerobatics were mostly from the Paul Bennet Airshows stable, with the Wolf Pitts Pro, Extra A300, Edge 540, and included a car versus aircraft race and pyros. Seeming like throwing a saloon car around the sky, in contrast, was Gerard Lappin’s full aerobatic display in the venerable club Cessna 152 Aerobat, VH-UNP, including the classic ‘taking the aircraft behind the trees’ beyond the field and then reappearing.

Ben Lappin in Citabria VH-BIK. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]

The weather at the show (and preceding day) hit over 37 degrees centigrade, with significant strong winds, luckily pretty much down the main runway, the only direction available during the show. Thankfully the Tyabb airfield was amply provided with hangars, many open and some with cooling, as well as trees and other shade in the main areas, as well as ample free water provision.

Mick Poole at the controls of the Ryan STM-2 VH-AWG [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]

Paul and Liz Gliddon’s 1939 Percival Proctor Mk.I VH-UXS makes its first show appearance in Paul’s hands. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]

Sadly the Curtiss Robin did not fly, but the Ryan STM in Dutch Netherlands East Indies colors and the Percival Proctor VH-UXS demonstrated the classic light aircraft scene, the Proctor making its first public airshow display since restoration by Latrobe Valley Airframes & Welding Pty Ltd.

Probably the most impressive display given the heat and gusty, windy conditions was the five de Havilland Tiger Moth formation, led by Paul Gliddon, with Nick Caudwell, Heath Wittmer, Kim Yoannidis and Gordon Rich-Phillips managed to present the trainers remarkably well in the conditions, and remain in front of the audience through most of their display slot.

Providing the classic trans-Atlantic contrast was a Stearman duo of bright, American trainers, and able to fly at the show, unlike at the previous, 2020 show (covered here).

While there was not a significant jet presence, Jeff Trappett’s CAC Sabre A94-352 was a welcome attendee flying over from Latrobe Valley airport in Gippsland, and a complete contrast was provided by the Avanti S scale jet model from Mark Tatti of the Victorian Jet Aerosport Association.

Jeff Trappett’s CAC, Avon-powered Sabre comes overhead, fast and clean (above) and slow (below) with airbrakes out. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]

The American heavy metal, core of the show and lead of the finale Balbo were the Grumman Avenger from Paul Bennet’s organization, and Graham Hosking’s heavyweight Vought Corsair resplendent in its Honduran scheme. The finale ‘Balbo’ was led by the Grumman Avenger, and had the two T-28s, the Corsair and the 100 Squadron Mustang joining at the end.

The Paul Bennet Airshows Grumman Avenger is painted in the 1944 VT.8 markings from the carrier USS Bunker Hill; part of Carrier Air Group 8; while the Corsair in VH-III’s final service operator’s scheme, the Fuerza Aérea Hondureña or Honduran Air Force. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman] Flying across the bay from RAAF Point Cook was Wing Commander Jason Easthope in the 100 Squadron RAAF CAC Mustang A68-170 (painted as ‘750’). [Photos by James Kightly]

The organizers are to be commended for restarting the show four years after the last – very successful event – four years ago, and spooling up after the enforced hiatus, and hitting temperatures not seen in this date and place since 1944.

Jim Wickham takes off in his scale Spitfire replica. Jim flew his R-22 helicopter, Yak, this Spitfire and presented his and Jenny Wickham’s scale Mustangs (above) in the static park. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]

Challenged by a significant number of major acts being unable to attend due, primarily to serviceability, and further challenged by the buffeting gusty winds and hot conditions, the over 9,000 attendees should still have come away afterwards impressed with a non-stop flying display showing a wide diversity of action and styles, and entertainment for even the most high expectations. The team are to be commended for a notable achievement despite numerous obstacles. Our thanks, also, to the organizing team for their exceptional help.

[Above, Left] A remarkable diversity in the static line up. [Above Right] No show is really complete without a radial engine run, here provided by The Old Aeroplane Co. [Below] Also provided by The Old Aeroplane Co was the static restoration ex-Rhodesian single-seat Vampire. [Photos by James Kightly]

This Bücker Bü 181 Bestmann, VH-BEZ is a license built example, a Heliopolis Air Works Gomhouria Mk.6. [Photo by Nigel Hitchman]
Planning starts now for the 2026 show, see you there! And finally, we share a quick insight to two projects underway at the Old Aeroplane Company on the other side of the airfield:

Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Boomerang project A46-249 under restoration to fly at the Old Aeroplane Company, Tyabb. Wing center section (foreground) with ‘dog kennel’ fuel tank behind and to the right, fuselage behind. [Photo by James Kightly]
The Old Aeroplane Company’s French-built Fieseler Fi-156A-1 Storch VH-HUN also continues on its underway on rebuild to airworthy. [Photo by James Kightly]

Array

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