By Michael Mangano
Pacific Airshow Heading Down Under
Australia is set to host its biggest air show in history after Pacific Airshow announced it will head down next year. The announcement, made on a rather rainy Wednesday, April 27, stated that the massive event will take place over the sandy beaches of Surfers Paradise, Queensland in August 2023. It is the start of an initial five-year commitment that will bring an unprecedented experience from California’s Huntington Beach to Australia’s iconic Gold Coast.
Pacific Airshow, which launched six years ago at Huntington Beach in Southern California, has featured performances from display teams such as the US Navy Blue Angels, USAF Thunderbirds, and the RAF Red Arrows. A media release stated, “Pacific Airshow is all about maximizing the adrenalin rush as the world’s best aviators push to the edge of what’s possible.” The event has received wide acclaim having been the only air show in North America to host three military aerobatic jet teams from three different countries.
The unique event, which draws 3 million visitors to California each year, is welcome news for the recently resuscitated Australian tourism industry. According to analysts, Pacific Airshow injected an overall $105 million into the Huntington Beach economy in 2019 alone, a result that is expected to be similar for Pacific Airshow Gold Coast.
Binding the ties between Australia and the United States, Pacific Airshow will be the largest air show in Australian history. While Australia hosts many air shows each year, Pacific Airshow is unique. The largest air shows in Australia are often true to their definition – an event targeting an audience comprised almost exclusively of aviation enthusiasts. By contrast, Pacific Airshow aims to entertain a much broader audience that caters to entire families, capitalizing on the holiday hotspot of the Gold Coast.
Speaking to Airline Geeks, CEO of event organizer Code Four and Pacific Airshow Director Kevin Elliot stated, “this is not your grandparents’ dusty old air show,” adding that the show will include some surprises. Saying that he couldn’t elaborate on too much yet, he explained “Pacific Airshow has invited participation from all allied nations,” including the previously mentioned Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, and the United Arab Emirates Al Fursan display teams to name a few.
Pacific Airshow promises a vast range of demonstrations that will be of great interest to all in attendance, with less focus on static displays and more on the action up above. This will include the latest fighter jets, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35, the latest in manned and unmanned drone technology, and what could very well be a demonstration of Urban Air Mobility technology. All this will be in addition to civilian displays and, hinted to Airline Geeks, the possibility of jet-packs. In 2019, Pacific Airshow held the first jet-pack race at Huntington Beach.
Additionally, the show will feature Australian Air Race champion and former Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilot Matt Hall, who has been signed as the event’s first ambassador.
Over its history, Pacific Airshow has garnered a family-friendly reputation. Director Kevin Elliot revealed a surprising statistic: during that history “not a single arrest has been made,” adding, “crime goes down when we look up.” Comparing Pacific Airshow to other events in Huntington Beach, he stated that not only was the event free of crime but that the location was left cleaner than at the start.
In addition to a display of aerobatics overhead, the three-day lifestyle festival will incorporate a vast entertainment and hospitality program, A-lister parties and exclusive VIP meet and greet events. “This will be an annual event that will feature the finest aerobatic teams and performers from around the globe as well as inspiring educational STEM activities, music, entertainment and much more,” Kevin Elliot added.
While the show has a reputation as the number one recruiting show for defense, it broadens its audience for all the family by increasing commercial involvement, meaning an enhanced experience that air shows of a more voluntary nature are unable to deliver.
Pacific Airshow is expected to draw attendees from around the world, with specific dates to be released in August 2022.