The Wide Bay Australia International Airshow is a not-for-profit organisation, supporting and promoting the local Royal Flying Doctor Service and Leukaemia Foundation within the Bundaberg Region. The 2003 air show was a private event organized by aviation enthusiasts with the consent of the Bundaberg City Council and held in July 2003. It was to be the first of six airshows approved, to be held biennially, by the Bundaberg City Council. The 2005 Airshow presented by Wide Bay Australia Ltd, held in Bundaberg during July, was an outstanding success. The show attracted major aviation enthusiasts as well as the general population who love planes with over 15,000 people attending over two days. As an organisation, two world records, one for speed and one for the wall of flame, were achieved. Guinness Book of Records recorded the event which was highlighted throughout Europe and New Zealand as well as Australia.
The strategy for the 2007 Airshow was to provide a value packed 3 days of entertainment including exhibitors, performing aircraft, static aircraft, a Vietnam battle re-enactment and thrilling entertainment rides combined with the Australia Army band, The Federation Guard and a superb pyrotechnic display. A highlight on one day was the Careers Expo and Trade Day, with Defence Jobs in attendance as well as numerous universities and colleges, attracting several thousand children from South East Queensland schools.
Originally held as a two day event, the decision was made in 2006 to increase the airshow to a three day event enabling one day to be devoted to the Trade and Career Expo. It was envisaged that this would assist the event becoming known not only for air display but also as a major trade show within the industry. The Australian Defence Department saw the potential to display their aircraft to a large audience and tasked aircraft not only for air display but static as well. The 2007 airshow drew record crowds to the career and aviation trade day as well as the 2 day action packed flying schedule, with an estimated 28,000 people attending. Over 30 General Aviation exhibitors’ brought their aircraft for display. Singapore Airlines and Alliance Airlines conducted aircraft fly over’s of their new major commercial jets with the RAAF providing F111s in addition to their traditional support to wow the crowds. Qantas Link again supported the show with charity flights in their new Dash400. Businesses sold out the Chalets and the Vietnam re-enactment was so successful that the Defence Forces sought permission to utilize the routine. For the first time in 2007 the Airshow Challenge was held in conjunction with The Leukaemia Foundation with entrants promoting the Airshow as well as raising over $36,000 to help fund the fight for a cure for leukaemia.
Attendance numbers for the 2009 Airshow was 22,000 people, with more than 300 aircraft from around Australia participating. In 2009 the event became recognised as the largest general aviation airshow in Australia for recreational and sport aircraft exhibitors. The Trade and Careers Day was evident that this event is becoming a very important date on the calender for aviation trade. Two aircraft were sold at the 2009 event.
Volunteers continue to be a major support for the airshow and in 2011 Griffith University will continue their partnership with Aviation students volunteering in different areas of the Airshow for which they will then receive Credits as a Major Project in their curriculum. They will assist in areas of marketing, sales, administration, infrastructure and Air Operations under supervision of event management and staff. The aim for the 2011 Airshow is to not only produce a top class air display but also to extend the Trade day attracting Trade Delegates from all over the world.
The Wide Bay Australia International Airshow was undoubtedly a huge commercial success for the aviation industry, especially in the quickly emerging private ownership of aircraft market. Many Industry bodies are already enquiring for participation in the 2011 event which promises to bring a new style of aviation spectacular – Barnstorming Bundaberg.