A stellar weekend continued for the Hunter as more than 20,000 flocked to Williamtown for an exclusive look at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base.
It may not be the biggest base in Australia - that crown is taken by Amberley, 40 kilometres out of Brisbane - but it is the country's premier fighter pilot training location.
The day attracted enthused locals and future pilots alike. In fact, head of air show Micka Gray said it was possible hundreds of young fans chose to join the RAAF after open days like this.
"We have one of the best small air forces in the world," he said during a media event. "Air shows and open days are really important to engage the community to encourage that interest.
"We've got all the aircraft on display and all our great displays," he said. "Most important is for us to be able to talk to people and people talk to us. We love seeing the kids here - the big kids and the little kids, and even the older kids who get a buzz being here.
[I'm] really looking forward to today," Mr Gray said.
It only makes sense this event would ignite passion for the RAAF. Behind Mr Gray sat an F-35A Lightning II. Plane fans need no introduction to this single-seat, single-engine combat aircraft, but for us common folk, the F-35A is regarded as the best fighter plane in the world.
Crowds flocked to see the aircraft as soon as gates opened at 9am. Most viewers have never been so close to the iconic plane, seen flying over Nobbys Beach in Saturday's air show.
"Everyone wants to see the F-35A. Everyone wants to see the latest and greatest and we're proud to display it here," Mr Gray said. "The crews that are here - they fly it. They look like 25-year-old guys and girls because they are, and that's what they do.
"But they are some of the [most] superb aviators in Australia," he said.
Nick McNamee travelled from Tamworth to see the F-35A, Australia's fifth generation combat plane. It has data fusion which allows information to be shared incredibly quickly.
"It's a really awesome aircraft. It's capabilities, what it can do - it's just really cool," he said.
The F-35As are characterised by advanced radars and infrared sensors. A lot of air-to-air weapons are able to be used from them. Williamtown is set apart as one of just two places in Australia to have the planes. The other is Tindal, near Katherine.
A surveyor by trade, Mr McNamee isn't planning to join the defence force anytime soon, but one viewer who understands the complexities of the F-35A is Jason Slade. He was an aviation technician in the navy.
"This is very interesting to me," he said as he snapped photos of the engine.
To the left of the F-35A sat a smaller plane, the PC-21. It is painted grey with bright red eyes and animated, shark-like teeth.
We spoke to someone who trains fighter jet pilots from this nifty aircraft. It was built in Switzerland and is the first plane many people learn to fly.
"We are a bit quieter, we cost a bit less, we can fly a bit more often than the jets," he said.
For those who don't want to get down in the details of RAAF planes, there was plenty more to see at Williamtown.
The event was a huge logistical effort. Mr Gray worked with a team of about 25 reservists who coordinated all the planning. It took around a year to organise.
"We work heavily with the base," Mr Gray said, noting his team had to work around complex military work on an operational base.
But the pay-off was worth it. Group Captain Anthony Stainton said the turn out had been fantastic and he was proud to have Williamtown open to the public.
"This is a great opportunity for everyone to come and see not just the things with wings, but also the things that support things with wings," Mr Stainton said. "There is something for everyone to look at, to learn. The air force is not just about one thing. It's a complete team approach.
"Regardless of what you do, team Williamtown is on display here. We are really, really happy and welcoming of everyone on the day," he said.
Beyond planes, there were military working dogs, food, a defence force band and virtual reality sets designed to show people what flying is like.
Dan Hasted flies helicopter recreationally. He's used to being up in the air and in control, but even he sat intently with an army officer by his side as he learnt to use a virtual reality flying machine.
"It's very close to the real thing," he said when finishing. "It was fantastic. It was amazing."
Mr Hasted felt the experience would "one hundred per cent" be good for training people or getting them keen for military service.
And on Saturday, all eyes were towards the sky over the water from the Fort Scratchley hill to Nobbys Head as it became a vortex of physics-defying flying on Saturday, from ripping across the beach to slinking acrobatic manoeuvres.
Thousands of spectators lined the sand from the headland to the beach, spilling back into Foreshore Park and as far as Honeysuckle to see 100 years of aviation technology on display.
From the tiny CT4 to the legendary Spitfire and into the modern age of airborne defence, the skies over Nobbys on a bright 22-degrees-and-sunny day were split.
The City of Newcastle billed the RAAF's display as the largest single-day event in the region's history, with preparations for as many as 100,000 spectators to see the two aviation displays on Saturday, ahead Sunday's ticketed open day at RAAF Base Williamtown.
The displays featured aeronautical acrobatics from the Air Force's Roulettes - a six-aircraft, seven-member display team flying the RAAF's Pilatus planes in formation - the historic Wirraway, as well as appearances by larger aircraft like the Spartan and the maritime patrol plane P-8A Poseidon.
Air combat jets - the F-35A, Super Hornet, and the menacing Growler - stole the show with gravity-defying aeronautical manoeuvres.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said vantage points at Nobbys and Stockton had been an "18-month process, working with the RAAF and state government" to realise the show.
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