ACT News

Memorial day hits new heights

A RECORD 20,000-strong crowd flocked to the Australian War Memorial's open day after a five-year hiatus.

And the day's success has director Brendan Nelson planning a repeat every two years if he can get enough funding.

Phillip Hunting from the Australian Great War Association stands with the female vocal trio 'The Stilettos' (from left) ...
Phillip Hunting from the Australian Great War Association stands with the female vocal trio 'The Stilettos' (from left) Janie Lawson, Sally Jackson and Tina Meir. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

The day-long program included an aerobatic display by four RAAF Roulettes, an Andrews Sisters tribute band, tours of a working Sikorsky Seahawk helicopter, tethered flights in a hot-air balloon, an evening concert by the Band of the Military College and fireworks.

Dr Nelson said attendance and the atmosphere surpassed his expectations.

''This is the first time we've had it in five years,'' Dr Nelson said. ''We couldn't afford to do it every year … but we certainly should be striving to do it every second year.''

The ACT government pitched in $100,000 but the day still cost the War Memorial more than $200,000.

Seahawk copilot Ian Parrott has been flying helicopters for 32 years and the line to get a look in the twin-engine, 9947-kilogram monster was more than 30 deep.

The 816 squadron is based in Nowra. ''It took 45 minutes to fly from Nowra and we were doing 200km/h,'' Lieutenant Parrott said.

RAAF Roulettes fly in formation as a part of the Australian War Memorial's celebrations.
RAAF Roulettes fly in formation as a part of the Australian War Memorial's celebrations. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Aiden Woods dragged his father to see the 20-metre-long chopper. But the 10-year-old prefers to sit in them while they are sitting firmly on the ground.

Alicia Regan, 7, of Flynn, wanted to go for a ride and was disappointed to find out Lieutenant Parrott couldn't take her.

As dusk fell, the Royal Military College performed Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and, at 8.30pm, fireworks lit up the dome of the hall of memory.