Centre of our aviation history

THE RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre features three separately themed hangars to fascinate visitors and delight aircraft aficionados.

The early aviation display hangar features an interpretation of the Bleriot aircraft that Louis Bleriot flew across the English Channel in 1909, the restored Douglas Boston bomber, Lancaster Merlin Engine and a collection of memorabilia from the era.

The entrance hangar is dedicated to military aviation involvement in the war and peacekeeping from 1946 onwards.

Aircraft currently on display include the restored Canberra bomber, an Iroquois Huey helicopter and a Bell Sioux helicopter synonymous with the MASH TV series.

This hangar also contains a refurbished Australian Army Pilatus Porter that will be officially unveiled at the July 19 heritage centre open day.

Outside this hangar is an old workhorse of the RAAF, the Caribou Battlefield airlifter.

The centre's third hangar is dedicated to the fast jets of the RAAF dominated by everyone's favourite - the F-111 - also a Korean War vintage Sabre fighter and a Mirage

The French-built Mirage interceptor carries the story of the pilot who flew this aircraft on its last mission from RAAF Williamtown to RAAF Amberley.

To take the heritage centre into the present and future, the Air Combat Centre-operated F/A 18 simulator was in operation on Sunday.

The RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre is open to the public on the third Sunday of each month, from 9am-3pm at RAAF Base Amberley.

Admission is free and photography is welcomed.

Visitors are welcomed too from the personnel who greet you at the gate to those who guide you in and the volunteers who are more than happy to answer questions, point out features of the displays or just check if you're okay.

Flight Lieutenant Steve Finch said the centre attracted about 500 visitors each time it opened.