Past And Present Take Flight


The sound of aviation history roared through the air over the Hunter Valley as part of the Warbirds Over Scone air show late last month.

Organised by Paul Bennet Airshows, the air show celebrated its 40th anniversary of Australian warbird air shows with a range of air and ground displays offering spectators a glimpse into the past.

Air Force proudly supported the event both in the air and on the ground. The Air Force Band were out in full swing entertaining the crowd, while members from 77 Squadron and 100 Squadron engaged with the public.

Looking skyward, spectators were treated to a range of flying displays from civilian aircraft, 100 Squadron aircraft including the Spitfire, CAC Wirraway and A37B Dragonfly, as well as a flypast from a C-130J Hercules.

The highlight was a special 77 Squadron heritage formation made up of a CAC Mustang, P-40 Kittyhawk, and two F-35A Lightning II aircraft; all aircraft types that have served with the squadron throughout its history.

Commanding Officer 100 Squadron, and pilot of the CAC Mustang, Wing Commander Jason Easthope said flying fighters from the 1940s alongside current fighters was a very special way to honour our past, those who served before us, and current serving members.

“The ‘then and now’ story behind the heritage formation gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” Wing Commander Easthope said.

“I have served with 77 Squadron, been the Commanding Officer and witnessed the inspirational performances of those who have served in the unit over many years, and flying today with Simmo, the current Commanding Officer, was a huge honour and privilege.”

Commanding Officer 77 Squadron, and pilot of one of the F-35A Lightning II aircraft, Wing Commander Paul Simmons, said flying off the wing of 1940s era piston fighters was challenging, immersive and memorable for all involved.

“While the formation clearly illustrates how much the equipment has changed over the last 82 years since 77 Squadron was formed, the character, incredible capacity and team work of the men and women over the years who have served remains fundamentally the same,” Wing Commander Simmons said.

“My sincere hope is that many young people look up, dream of doing this themselves and are motivated to pursue the wonderful opportunity to serve in the Air Force.”

Wing Commander Jason Easthope said the formation would not have been possible if it weren’t for the dedicated people behind keeping these icons of the sky flying.

“A big thank you to Rob Eastgate, the owner of CAC Mustang A68-104 VH-BOB, and to the Pay family for providing their meticulously restored P-40 Kittyhawk from the Pays’ Warbird Collection. We couldn’t have done this without them as the RAAF Mustang was busy supporting the Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend,” Wing Commander Easthope said.

“Seeing a range of other warbirds on the ramp, meticulously cared for by enthusiasts and private owners is a testament to the warbird enterprise level passion that exists throughout Australia.”

/Public Release. View in full here.