Wings Over Illawarra's bumpy flight

Ground display: Air cadets from around NSW march at the Wings Over Illawarra air show on Sunday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Ground display: Air cadets from around NSW march at the Wings Over Illawarra air show on Sunday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Organisers of Sunday's Wings Over Illawarra air show have defended their running of the event after unhappy patrons took to social media to voice their disappointment.

Long queues at the entry gates, few air displays and poor signage and communication on the ground led to several people venting their frustrations on the event's Facebook page, after wild weather played havoc with the popular air show's program.

Strong crosswinds prevented the majority of aerobatic displays, prompting complaints from patrons about the ticket prices.

"I just feel as though they should have informed us [about the air show cancellations] at the ticket box and the gates, then people wouldn't feel as though they've been robbed," said Kym Hodges, who paid full price for herself and four children.

"Charging full price when air displays are cancelled is a bit of a joke," Sarah Woods added.

Others said that it was hard to find the toilets and food vendors, and that communication about the program changes was poor.

"It was an unfortunate day and most of the things that have occurred, that people were dissatisfied about, were flow-on effects from the weather," Wings Over Illawarra marketing manager Andrew Herring said.

"Never in the history of Wings Over Illawarra have we seen winds like this or weather like this at this time of year."

With few planes flying, Mr Herring said patrons abandoned the prime viewing spots at the southern end of the airfield and flocked to the static display of modern and vintage aircraft, putting pressure on the facilities in that area.

He said organisers would consider an extra ticketing gate in the future, but urged people to avoid queues at the gates by buying their tickets online.

However, he said it was "unreasonable" for patrons to expect a discount or partial refund due to weather, comparing it to a washed-out cricket match.

But not everyone was asking for one - Nakia Bennett congratulated organisers for putting on a good show under trying circumstances.

"Had a great day at WOI ... there was heaps to see and do," she wrote on Facebook.

"The F1-11 was a massive drawcard and I especially liked the addition of a meet and greet and signing from RAAF pilots "Fuzz" and "Jacko", as well as unprecedented access to the F/A-18 Hornets.

"Great experience on what was an atrocious day. We'll be back in 2015! Congrats to the organisers under ... trying conditions."

This is the first year Wings Over Illawarra has been run by a private company. Former Aviator Lounge restaurant owners Mark and Kerry Bright took over after a community committee decided to transfer the show to a commercial operator.


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