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February 2013

Australian International Airshow

The action-packed gathering of aircraft through the ages returns soaring high, with splendid aerial shows and entertainment for everyone

Australian International Airshow

Having originally begun as a simple country airshow in the outskirts west of Sydney, the biennial Australian Airshow has snowballed into a grand day out for aviation enthusiasts and anyone who likes their machines loud and fast.

The public portion of the show at Avalon Airport gives visitors a chance to marvel up close at a huge bank of aircraft displayed on the ground, including vintage, commercial and military models. Flight demonstrations will be taking place through the day and night - the event boasts the world's only flight show after dark.

This year will also be the last chance to see two of Australia's biggest aviation names, aerobatic pilot Chris Sperou and skydiver Dave Benson, in action as they make their farewell flights. Other esteemed pilots filling out the roster include British aerobatic expert Mark Jeffries and popular American pilot Skip Stewart, who'll be wowing the crowd in his custom-built Pitts special muscle biplane.

Away from the jets, more wicked vehicles can be found at the Avalon Arena, where visitors can admire and get behind the wheel of souped-up cars. Meanwhile, kids can get a mini cockpit experience and learn more about aviation at the Kids Zone.

Fun Facts

* The Breitling Wingwalkers, the world's only acrobatic formation wingwalking team, will be balancing and doing stunts while facing speeds of up to 241km/h.

* Skip Stewart's customised plane is painted black with orange flames, resembling an American "Hot Rod" Cadillac.

* Chris Sperou's plane of choice, the red Pitts biplane Super Stinker, runs at over 300 horsepower.

Tropfest

Director John Polson tells us about the process behind planning Tropfest

"I had no idea that Tropfest would grow to the scale it is in Australia today, let alone expand across the globe," says Australian director and festival founder John Polson. Today it's the world's largest short-film festival, transmitting to major cities around Australia during the main Sydney event and rolling out separate editions in cities like New York, Beijing and Abu Dhabi each year.

Planning for Tropfest begins the moment the next Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), an element that must show up in every shot produced for the competition, is announced when the festival ends each year.

Of this year's TSI, a balloon, Polson says they always ensure the symbol is interesting for audiences, but accessible enough for filmmakers to work with.

Although Polson is often caught up with directing projects, he still fits in enough time to get hands on with almost every aspect of the festival. "There's something new to do every day, from shooting ideas through email to negotiating contracts," he says. "It's a constant state of flux, but I love it."

Tropfest is on 17 February in Sydney; www.tropfest.com/au






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