Neptune, Sabre and Southern Cross replica will return to airshow duties at Airshows Downunder Shellharbour

Airshows Downunder Shellharbour will feature the return to display flying by several rare vintage aircraft, some of which have not flown at an airshow for several years.

Photo: William Reid

Locally-based aviation museum HARS (the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society) have also returned two aircraft to flight recently, and will display them at the airshow according to the event’s newly-updated website. This includes their Neptune P2H – the only flying Neptune in the world – which returned to flight in December 2023 following a two-year restoration.

Perhaps even more keenly-awaited, the museum’s replica Fokker F.VIIB has also been returned to flight recently after 20 years on the ground. The aircraft was built in the 1980s and is painted to represent Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s “Southern Cross”, the first aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean. It was damaged in a landing accident in 2002, and had not flown since.

Another star of the flying display is likely to be Jeff Trappett’s CA-27 Sabre Mk.32 – the only Sabre currently flying in the southern hemisphere Australia – which is quite an elusive airshow participant.

Warbirds Downunder Shellharbour is the new name for Wings Over Illawarra, held in Wollongong south of Sydney. Traditionally annual, the event has recently been purchased by the organisers of the Australian International Airshow and will run biannually. This year’s show will run on the 1st-3rd March 2024.