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Flying high: Gold Coast to host world's biggest air show in tourism coup

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One of the world’s biggest airshows is heading to the Gold Coast in a five year deal that is a coup for post-Covid tourism for the region.

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Pacific Airshow is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors from around Australia to see the spectacle of aerial acrobatics from military and civilian jet planes performing stunts over Surfers Paradise beach and ocean.

It’s a spin-off from California’s famous Huntington Beach event which attracts an estimated three million people every year.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate announced the deal Wednesday morning, with Pacific Airshow Gold Coast to take off in August 2023.

“There has never been an air event of this scale staged anywhere in Australia,” Tate said.

Pacific Airshow is now the biggest airshow in the US, featuring performances from well known aerobatic troupes such as Air Force Thunderbirds, US Navy Blue Angels, and UK Royal Air Force Red Arrows, as well as many of the world’s best civilian performers.

Australia’s most recognisable aviator, Matt Hall, who is also a former Royal Australian Air Force top gun fighter pilot, has signed on as the event’s first ambassador.

The event will be coordinated between RAAF Airbase at Amberley and the Gold Coast Airport.

It’s the brainchild of events company Code Four CEO Kevin Elliot, who wanted to expand the international airshow.

California’s Huntington Beach air show attracts an estimated three million visitors every year. (Photo: Supplied)

“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,” Elliot said.

“My whole premise was how do we think differently about airshows. People are fascinated by airplanes.

“We thought where could we take this energy and duplicate it, and very quickly we said Australia and the Gold Coast and found the demographics – you have some striking similarities.”

He said the Pacific Airshow would effectively transform the sky over Surfers Paradise into Australia’s biggest stage.

“We see an opportunity to really do some exciting things and people have been generally very receptive about the idea of generating economic impact and a lot of economic benefit to the local, small businesses,” Elliot said.

“It’s a complicated event to plan in that it encompasses everything that happens on the ground; your traditional event. It encompasses everything that happens in the air, which is obviously very complicated and also encompasses an amazing element on the water.

“This will become also the largest maritime event on the Eastern Seaboard of Australia for all the boaties. We get thousands and thousands of boats that come in and anchor offshore because it’s a great place to watch the event.

“So you are dealing with the land, the air and the sea. The beautiful thing about the event not happening at the airport is you don’t have to deal with any of the takeoffs and the landings and so when you’re sitting on the beach, you see one person perform and when they’re done, they leave and instantly in comes the next person and so you don’t get the lulls in the action like you get at your typical runway type air show.”

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