The Pacific Airshow Gold Coast could expand in future years after a massive turnout to its inaugural event.
The airshow, which was created by the team behind the Pacific Airshow at Huntington Beach, California, attracted around 200–300,000 total attendees over the weekend, either paid or watching from a distance. Organisers have now told local media that there is room to grow up to half as much again.
Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin, Pacific Airshow CEO Kevin Elliott said that starting in 2024, the event – which occupied roughly 1km of beachfront this year – could widen its footprint on the beach, add VIP areas, expand deeper into the streets, and add “double-storey hospitality”.
“We built the venue and sized it for what we thought we could sell without taking more of the beach than we thought we needed. The last thing we wanted to do was take more beach than there was demand. Fortunately for us, demand met our capacity,” he said.
“Now we know there is more demand we can expand. Next year we plan to expand the event precinct, even wider, to accommodate more capacity.
“I think we can go 50 per cent larger – there are a lot of ways we can expand, either side [of the beach area], push back in the street a bit too which would require diligent planning and traffic management. We close the street anyway so we’ll look at that.”
Elliott also hinted that the line-up could expand for future events, and nighttime music events are also “on the docket” for consideration.
“We run the biggest airshow in the US and have a great relationship with US defence forces which gives us a bit of an advantage in terms of attracting US assets,” he said.
“We really want to do a music festival at night – really cool because you can do all kind of things like night flights and pyrotechnics off aeroplanes, jumpers coming down with LED wingsuits. Night shows are incredible.”
The schedule for 2023 included flypasts from RAAF C-130 Hercules and Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft, as well as displays from the RAAF, US Marine Corps and US Air Force.
In addition, Westpac Helicopter conducted a lifesaving rescue helicopter demonstration, Gold Coast Skydive performed a formation skydive, and Fw190 Downunder and the Precision Fighters showed off a Focke Wulf 190, P-51D Mustang, and a P-40 Kittyhawk, among other displays.
Organisers hope that the event, which features air power assets from both the RAAF and the US Air Force, will deepen the bonds between the two partner nations while stimulating interest among attendees to consider a career in the Australian Defence Force.