The best things in flight are free - the sheer enjoyment of it and the sense of adventure - and so is the Rylstone Celebration of Aviation this Saturday (May 18).
Rylstone Airpark founder, Rob Loneragan, said that after about half a decade of hosting a fly-in for pilots he thought "let's do something different" for the first Celebration of Aviation last year - and added aerobatics, joy flights, and guest speakers. He knew the aviation community would love it, but was "overwhelmed" by just how wide the appeal reached.
"We had something like 110 aircraft fly in last year and most had two people in them, then you had people who drove but were pilots or interested in aviation, so that would've been about 400 people," he said. "But we had nearly 2,000 people here last year and they were people from Mudgee, Kandos, Rylstone and around who came out to see the planes and the aerobatic display - it became a community event.
"It was rewarding, it was overwhelming and it was just fantastic to see - that we put on something that provided entertainment and interest and an opportunity for the community to engage."
Mr Loneragan added it was important to make it a free event, because it's "about promoting and cultivating a healthy spirit of aviation" at a time when the positives need to be highlighted.
"In recent years there's been escalating challenges as far as general aviation is concerned, especially for people who own a private aircraft. There's more bureaucracy and regulation and there are huge challenges for country aerodromes," he said. "There's a misconception that if you own an aeroplane you're rich and if you're involved in aviation you make a lot of money. It's just not true, people do it because they love it - it's a pursuit of passion.
"There's been a fair bit of negative airplay about how difficult it is to keep flying, so I've taken a different track."
He said that making aviation appealing to a younger demographic is vital to its future and another goal of the event.
"There's an aging population as far as pilots are concerned, we all know how hard it is to make and collect enough money to buy a house, so very few young people are getting into aviation," he said. "But you can be; a pilot and learn to fly for yourself for the sheer pleasure of it; join cabin crews and travel the world; become an aircraft mechanic and engineer; join the airforce; or start training with a view to getting into the airlines.
"There is a huge world shortage of airline pilots, there are more people who are travelling and more commercial aircraft being built, but they're struggling to put pilots into them. So what we're trying to do is let young people know that there are opportunities in aviation."