By Ellen Hill
More than 70 aircraft flew into history when they took part in the largest civilian flyover in Australian history and the first ever of the Blue Mountains on Saturday, May 25.
Thousands flocked to 11 public viewing sites to witness the 75 aircraft fly overhead to mark the bicentenary of the first recognised European crossing of the Blue Mountains by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth in 1813.
The two-and-a-half-hour aerial spectacle included the famed RAAF Roulettes aerial acrobatic team, a C-130J Hercules, Beavers, a team of Yaks, Gyrocopters and everything in between.
Joining in the fun were descendants of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, who flew over the same route blazed by their famous relatives two centuries ago.
Destination NSW (DNSW) chief executive officer Sandra Chipchase said: ”DNSW is delighted to jointly support this spectacular event, Australia’s largest ever civilian flyover and the first ever of the Blue Mountains.
”Thousands of visitors have joined thousands of residents at 11 official viewing locations from Penrith across the Blue Mountains to Lithgow and Oberon. Visitors even watched the
75 planes take off from Bankstown and Richmond and the ones that landed at Bathurst.
”The bicentenary of the first recognised European crossing of the Blue Mountains by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth is one of Australia’s most historically significant milestones and the destination has welcomed visitors including descendants, history buffs and aviation enthusiasts from across the country and overseas.”
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) chairman Randall Walker said the official regional tourism organisation was thrilled to support the Flyover.
”I commend Philip Hammon, the visionary behind the concept, and event director Matt Hall for organising an outstanding and fitting event to mark the bicentenary. Philip’s dream of a large scale spectacle, complete with descendants and led by the famous RAAF Roulettes and free to the public has been realised.
”BMLOT was pleased with the influx of visitors attending the many great events on the ground delivered by local community organisations.
“This event has been an unforgettable highlight of this year’s Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary 2013-2015 program.
“To stand out from the crowd we must dare to dream, to have the courage to be different from the rest and then do whatever it takes to turn that vision into reality. Philip Hammon was that driving force behind the Blue Mountains Bicentenary Flyover.’’
Blue Mountains Mayor Daniel Myles said the crossings bicentenary celebrations had been an “unequivocal success and the passion and commitment of the organisers has been matched by the broader community’’.
Blue Mountains State MP Roza Sage said: “I am so proud to be the Member for the Blue Mountains during this bicentenary celebration.
“The organisation has been exemplary and the community has embraced it. This is a special, once-in-a-lifetime event in history that everyone has been able to be part of. Congratulations to everybody involved in the bicentenary celebrations, the flyover, the Blue Mountains Blue Wave walk and all the community organisers.’’
Macquarie Federal MP Louise Markus said the bicentenary celebrations had been exceptional “with opportunities to celebrate our history and the foundations of our society as we know it today’’.
“We have also created history, and today [sic] we have seen the largest ever civilian flyover in Australia and the first ever of the Blue Mountains. Congratulations to all who have made this happen.’’
Event flying operations co-ordinator Matt Hall said the aviation side of the event had gone off without a hitch.
“This was an extremely complex exercise in logistics but the pilots all showed a tremendous amount of professionalism and skill,” Hall said.
“The Businesses Supporting Bicentenary and Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism should be commended for creating an event that was not only great for the local area but also a wonderful advertisement for aviation.”
Visit http://www.bluemountainscrossings.com.au for information about the bicentenary or visit the Flyover Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlueMountainsBicentenaryFlyover.