After a tough 12 months, due to COVID-19, Australia’s premier aerobatic and air show pilot Paul Bennet is ready to soar to great heights again.
And, thankfully, he’s primed to do it this weekend when Cessnock Airport hosts the biennial Hunter Valley Airshow on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 March.
The popular event returns in 2021 with its most impressive line-up ever of aircraft, performances and entertainment.
Then throw in the Warbirds, RAAF displays, Hot Wheels Stunt Team, Plane v FMX bike jump, car show, military vehicles, beer and wine garden, amusement rides, markets and street food – and you’ll find something of interest for all ages.
But, for Bennet himself, the Hunter Valley Airshow is close to his heart, too.
“It’s always really nice to have your home show in front of your home crowd,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of friends and business partners coming out to watch the event.
“So, it’s definitely important to me.
“It’s also great to receive the support from Cessnock City Council and the mayor Bob Pynsent, as well as the airport operator.
“Everyone who’s been involved in this has been fantastic.
“All our team’s local and we’re based at Cessnock, so it’s perfect for us.”
Up in the skies, an epic air show will play out across both days, according to Bennet.
“We’ll have a Corsair, a beautiful Mustang from Pay’s, a P-40E Kittyhawk, a Spitfire, a Hudson, a Hurricane, a Boomerang from Temora and more,” he said.
“With something like the Corsair, it doesn’t venture up this way very much.
“It’s an expensive machine – and an extremely rare warbird.
“That will fly with our Grumman Avenger.
“As for the Spitfire, there’s only three flying in Australia while, in regards to the Hudson, there’s only one flying in the world.
“So, it’s a massive coup to have them at Cessnock.”
Another highlight, which is sure to thrill the spectators, will see Bennet team up with motocross master Jackson Strong for a stunt that involves a plane, a motorbike and one big ramp.
“We’ve been doing the backflip with the bike for a number of years and with a number of different riders,” he told Newcastle Weekly.
“We decided to change it up a little.
“We’ve done that particular stunt at a lot of shows around the nation, so we wanted to add another element.
“We have got a new rider, probably the best in the country and one of the best in the world, in Jackson [Strong].
“He’ll do a forward flip over me while I’ll fly under him knife-edge.
“It’s something that’s never been done before, so I’m very much looking forward to it.
“But, the weekend’s more than just an airshow.
“There are plenty of things happening on the ground, too.
“Our intention is to make it a great family event, not just for the warbird or aerobatic enthusiast.
“I’m pretty confident everyone, young and old, will have a fun-filled day.
“It’s easily the best Hunter Valley Airshow we’ve put together.”
Cessnock Airport (western entrance) is located at 40 Grady Road, Pokolbin.
Free parking will be available across both days.
Gates open at 9am, though this event may just sell out, so purchase your tickets online to avoid disappointment.
For further information, and to buy tickets, visit https://www.huntervalleyairshow.com.au