A WW11 memorial flypast with a squadron of warbirds pays tribute to the history of Evans Head Aerodrome.
A WW11 memorial flypast with a squadron of warbirds pays tribute to the history of Evans Head Aerodrome. Yvonne Gardiner

Grey nomads keep great aviation show flying high

THE Great Eastern Fly-In at Evans Head has worked its magic for another year.

Dozens of planes from along the east coast, their pilots and aviation enthusiasts entertained about 7000 showgoers over the two days, January 6 and 7.

Co-ordinator Gai Taylor said organisers of the not-for-profit annual event would donate a portion of profits to charity.

"It went really well - we had a great weekend," she said.

"Just everyone enjoying it, the kids loving it.

"It's everybody getting to experience something they normally wouldn't.

"The big green fire trucks from Ballina and their water display were fantastic."

After a well-earned rest, Great Eastern Fly-In Inc will start planning for 2019.

Top of the agenda for volunteer co-ordinator Gerry Gerrard is how to attract more grey nomads to help out.

Gerry, of Meerschaum Vale, was a volunteer for five years before he took on the role of co-ordinator five years ago.

"Five years ago there was about four or five of us at any one time," he said.

"We work with The Grey Nomads (website) now and they're tremendous.

"I'm always on the lookout for volunteers. Some people come for one session.

"We have a good time, a get-together at night and talk about things, then have a barbecue on Monday night, and a show-and-crow and prizes.

"We keep in touch. Half of them come every year, they know as much as I do.

"Without the grey nomads, the fly-in certainly wouldn't happen."

Gerry's a semi-retired tour operator from Alice Springs who used to take big groups through the deserts of Australia.

So organising 30-odd volunteers comes easy to him - despite some challenges.

"We basically do the parking and associated things, the coin collection at the gate, we have a courtesy shuttle bus, the counting house sit-down jobs and a reception person," he said.

"Saturday at the fly-in was perfect, we had the markets and that was fine.

"Sunday had the car show and it was becoming a bit of an ordeal.

"We were catering for 50 to 60 cars this year, and about 250 turned out.

"The event is getting bigger and bigger.

"We have a roster now, and I need seven or eight people at any one time."

Next year, the fly-in is likely to happen the third week in January.

Anyone interested in volunteering, visit www.greateasternflyin.com.

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