ALREADY home to a unique collection of Vintage Fighter Restorations, a boost to Scone Regional Airport could be just what’s needed for its reputation as a state-of-the-art attraction for aviation lovers to get off the ground.
An impressive array of fighters, trainers and bombers from across Australia will take to the sky for the ‘Warbirds Over Scone’ air show on March 25 which is expected to attract thousands.
Now a $171,400 government grant to build the facility into a multi-purpose aviation visitor attraction to include a café, gift-shop, function centre and interactive aircraft display is expected to bring an additional 26,000 people to Scone a year.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce and Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen today announced Upper Hunter Shire Council had secured the funding to support the $342,800 project for the new visitor centre.
Mr Joyce said the Warbirds are an incredible asset for the Upper Hunter and acknowledged the work the Pay family have done in making sure that this exhibit continues to grow.
“That’s 26,000 more people needing meals, needing motels to stay in, going around the district, taking their money out of the major capitals and spending it in the Upper Hunter,” he said.
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said the grant support was from the 2017/18 round of the Tourism Demand-Driver Infrastructure program - a Commonwealth funded initiative administered by the State Government to support tourism projects that drive demand and increase local tourism expenditure.
“This project is to develop the architectural design and detailed construction drawings for the visitor centre, creating three new full-time roles,” Mr Johnsen said.
“This is only good news, this is going to bring around 26,000 more people a year to Scone - now let’s put that into some context - Scone’s a town of around 5,500 people.
“It’s only going to be a plus for the motels, the cafes, the restaurants.
“And, it will put more of a diversified buzz into the town of Scone.”
Upper Hunter Shire Council Mayor Wayne Bedggood thanked the government for their support of the project.
“This facility will house live Warbirds, they’re not just static old, rusty Warbirds, but functioning and it’s our hope people will be able to fly in them as well,” he said.
“We thank the government very much for getting this project started and we will be knocking on their doors later on in the project.”
Thankful for the news, managing director of Pay’s Air Service Ross Pay said the project was fantastic for Scone.
“We are going to have a beautiful new facility so that we can showcase these aeroplanes – we’ve got other people from other places that want to come and display their aircraft here so we will have a pretty amazing display of WWII aircraft,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic when we get the bypass in.
“Some people have been worried about what’s going to happen to the town but I think with things like this we will get a lot more people to the town.”