Great Tiger Moth Air Race out of pages of yesteryear

IT WILL be a sight to behold when 45 World War II-era planes fly in tandem past Sydney Harbour Bridge next month as part of the Great Tiger Moth Air Race.

Not since 2003 has there been a Tiger Moth air race: this year's is expected to be bigger and better than ever before.

And perhaps the last of this scale.

Flying for the first time in the race (the first was in 1977) will be Salamander Bay pilot Bill Balson.

Before he retired to the Bay 21 years ago, Mr Balson was a pilot for Qantas.

For 34 years he flew planes for Australia's national carrier, including the original Airbuses which are designed for long-haul international trips.

Now he spends his free time at Luskintyre Airfield, near Lochinvar, restoring Tiger Moths and flying his Cessna.

Even at a spritely 83 years old, Mr Balson said he was not the oldest pilot preparing to take flight on October 4 when the two-day race starts at Luskintyre.

"I said I wasn't going to go in the race, but I was convinced otherwise," Mr Balson said.

The eldest believed to be flying in this year's race is a man aged in his 90s, Mr Balson said.

The de Havilland Tiger Moth was a plane used to train pilots between the 1930s and 1950s.

It was originally considered to be a throwaway plane and expected to fly for only three or four years, but has stood the test of time.

Two crew will fly in each craft, competing for best time flights and fuel consumption.

The fleet will fly from Luskintyre Airfield on October 4, south along the coast to Sydney Harbour then turn west over Parramatta to Camden Airfield.

From Camden the fleet will fly back to Luskintyre on October 5 via Prospect, Patonga and Swansea.

All money raised will go to supporting Lift Youth Development and Soldier On.

Charter the Tiger Moth air race by heading to www.tigerairrace.com.

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