Presidents Report – May 2023

April 16th saw the running of the biannual Barossa Airshow at Rowland Flat Airfield. There were numerous challenges both for the organisers and for me with my Chipmunk serviceability.

I was due to lead a formation of 4 vintage aircraft until my right magneto started showing an excessive mag drop. Over 3 weeks the magneto was replaced 3 times along with 3 different ignition leads and 3 sets of spark plugs. The diagnosis of the problem kept being masked by incorrect earthing of the LEFT magneto, not shutting off when trying to isolate the right magneto during testing. Ultimately, less than 3 days before the airshow, the problem was isolated to an incompatible ignition lead. A replacement one of the correct type was sourced and the Chipmunk was finally good to go. And the formation flypast went well!

The weather was of concern with significant rainfall on the Friday night and Saturday before clearing out to a nice day with scattered clouds on Sunday.

The Barossa Airshow is different to most Airshows in that it is hosted by the Rotary Club of Barossa Valley with profits being donated to local charity, Youth Barossa.

Several thousand people turned out for a well-run and entertaining event, with a wide assortment of vintage, modern and military aircraft. The show opened with an entertaining display of radio control model aircraft, including gas turbine powered jets. The RAAF provided support with the Roulettes (just a 3 ship display this time) and a fly over from a P8 Poseidon. Jim Whalley was kept very busy displaying his Gazelle helicopter, a very noisy Republic See Bee amphibian, his rare CAC Boomerang and finishing with his Siai Marchetti S211 Jet trainer.

84 year old Chris Sperou showed he still has it with a spirited display in his Pitts. Lyndon Trethewey is emerging as Chris’ heir apparent with an excellent display in his all black CAP 232. The Silver Sharks RV Formation keep getting better and better. There was also the usual Parachute and fire bombing display as well as the Police Air Wing showing off their Bell 412 helicopter.

Well-known local pilot, Cath Conway, was showing off her newly purchased Siai Marchetti SM 1019 Gas Turbine powered STOL Army liason aircraft. The previous owner, Geoff Bryant had it based at Goolwa.

A newcomer to South Australia is Barbara Trappet’s newly delivered 1940 Ryan STM Military trainer. The aircraft was only delivered by Spitfire pilot Ben Lappin a few days earlier. He did a very tidy display and commented afterwards that you have to keep your wits about you on the ground as this aircraft can bite! It is a very pretty aircraft which will be based at Goolwa.

All in all a very nice day out that goes a long way to compensating the public for the washed out Jamestown last year.

I was reading on the net that this year’s Reno Air Race on 13-17 September is to be the last one after nearly 60 years of racing at that site. Declining entries, increasing costs and encroachment of development around the Stead Reno Airport has brought it to an end. Whether an alternative site can be found is not known at this stage. If you have never been to Reno I can thoroughly recommend it, and this year will be your last and only chance!

On the 20th May the club will host a fly in/drive in BBQ at the Murray Bridge Airport lounge from 1030 am. The usual format with egg and bacon sandwiches, sausage sizzle, tea, coffee and cake. Entry is by donation with all proceeds going to our club charity, the RFDS. I will send around a clipboard for numbers at the next meeting or you can email me through the club website.

The following weekend is the Strathalbyn Airfield Vintage Wings and Wheels event on Sunday 28th May.

Our speaker for May is long time member, Henry Schultz, talking on his latest project. Intrigued? Come and find out what it is about on May 10th.

Blue Skies,


You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3- Paul F. Chrickmore, SR71 Pilot