World first in airshow programs

Planning airshows is like planning a military action with the show’s flight programme unlikely to survive past the first contact with reality – but the Tauranga airshow will be different.

Classic Flyers webmaster Gary Benner has developed unique software that enables live updates of the flight and show programme.

NetSmart Limited managing director Paul Horak and Classic Flyers webmaster Gary Benner check the online program displaying the airshow’s programme.

“The thing about airshows is traditionally they can’t print programmes because of the nature of aeroplanes, and the weather, late arrivals, engines not starting, someone taking a bit longer than everyone else,” says Gary, a Kaimai resident.

“So to help manage the show we have written some software that allows the flight director to have an online program where they can manage the scheduling of the flights and keep it up-to-date with the various people: the pilots in the pilots’ tent, the air traffic controllers up in the tower, and every member of the public who has a smart phone or tablet.”

They will be able to see an up-to-date programme as it changes so they can actually be aware of what’s going on, says Gary.

The public information also has photos of the plane and in many cases the pilots, so they have some more background information about what’s going on and they can understand what they are seeing.

“We’ve done the wifi in conjunction with NetSmart, the local wireless provider,” says Gary.

“They have set up a comprehensive wifi network that is covering the airfield that is enabling this – we have also got a big screen in the gold pass tent as well.”

Gary started as an electronics engineer working on the innards of petrol pumps before moving on to software.

Most of his work is now in online education, in business and health industry, where all their professional development is now conducted online.

“I get to work with that software which naturally fits with what’s going on here,” says Gary.

The software was developed with input from the display director Keith Skilling who has been involved with airshows around the world.

“From what we understand no-one’s done it like this anywhere in the world so it’s a world first,” says Gary.

“I personally enjoy aviation. My father was a Spitfire pilot so it gets me involved and is a way of having a lot of fun; most of the people volunteering do it for the fun of it.”


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