Organisers of the Blue Mountains Bicentenary Flyover have downsized plans to see more than 200 aircraft follow the path trodden by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth two centuries ago.
But while a shortfall of participants and financial backing has forced the downsizing of the event, the flyover, on Saturday May 25 this year, has been boosted by the support of several descendants of the explorers who will take part in participating aircraft, alongside the renowned RAAF aerobatic team, the Roulettes, and German aviation legend Matthias Dolderer.
More than 35 civilian pilots have so far registered their interest in participating in the event, flying the same route travelled by the famous explorers, from Emu Plains through the Blue Mountains to Mount York. The aircraft will then go via O’Connell and on to Bathurst where the Bathurst Aero Club will host a BBQ for all participants in the flyover.
A major viewing site and air activities will be at Melrose Park in Katoomba. Along with Melrose Park there will be 12 other recommended live viewing sites along the route.
Businesses Supporting the Bicentenary Director Phil Hammon said that he was very excited at the inclusion of the descendants, and looking forward to their reaction at viewing their ancestors’ route from the air.
“We still have every intention of making this event something to remember the Bicentenary by, and to thank those that have backed the event and commemorated the achievements of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth,” Mr Hammon said.
“There is no doubt that those pilots that participate and the relatives of the explorers will be impressed by the beauty of the Blue Mountains and the courage of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth.
“It will also be a great spectacle for the people that view the aircraft flying overhead from Melrose Park or anywhere else along the route that can be found at www.visitbyroad.com.au.”
Flyover coordinator Matt Hall said he was still able to include further aircraft and pilots to fly alongside those already committed.
“We are honoured to have some of the descendants of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth joining in the flyover and have room for more pilots to join them,” Hall said.
“Interested parties can read more about the event and download a registration pack at www.matthallracing.com.”
Hall is currently working with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to allow participating pilots to brief for the flyover via video rather than in person.
“I am talking to CASA about making things as safe as possible and one way is to have a video brief available that pilots can look at over and over to ensure they are on the right page,” Hall said.
“That way pilots won’t have to make plans to fly into an out of the way airport for a brief and can just meet us in the air at the right place and time on route.”
Whilst some areas of support for the event have fallen short of forecasts, aviation insurer QBE has come forward to offer all participants, regardless of whether they are QBE clients or not, top up cover to $10million for their liability insurance.
The flyover will be part of the Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary 2013-2015 program of events to mark the first recognised European crossing of the mountains by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth.
For more information about the Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary 2013-2015: www.bluemountainscrossings.com.au or visit the Flyover’s facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/BlueMountainsBicentenaryFlyover