“Its illegal to drive solo at this age, but flying a plane is ok” – Paul Andronicou reminiscing about his first solo flight at age 17.
The 2019 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition held at Avalon Airport near Geelong in Victoria, is the 14th time the show has been held since its inception back in October 1992. This biennial show is one of the Asia-Pacific regions most prestigious and the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. This airshow, like the ones before has something for everyone, from aerospace industry professionals, the military, aviation enthusiasts, recreational pilots and the general public, there are attractions and displays to cater for the most discerning of interests.
Paul Andronicou –
Paul Andronicou is an Australian aerobatic pilot that performs at airshows and competitions both domestically and abroad.
Paul began his flying career at the tender age of 17 in 1986, catching two buses to Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne’s south, and learning to fly in a Piper PA-28 Cherokee. Paul saved enough money from pumping fuel at his fathers service station on weekends and after school so he could pay for lessons. Paul’s attraction to aviation began, like many of us, through watching war movies and seeing the likes of World War II aircraft such as the Messerschmitt Me109 and the Heinkel bomber duelling with Spitfires and Hurricanes over the English Channel. Books on aviation and aircraft also consumed many hours of Paul’s time, and reading novels such as Biggles stirred his appetite and drove his passion for flight.
Throughout his 33 years as a pilot, Paul has achieved many goals, both in his working career and as a pilot. As a pilot, Paul has amassed over 1700 flying hours, and flying aerobatics, has more than 1000 hours logged, in many different types of aircraft, that being the Extra 300S, Extra 330SC, Stephens Akro Laser, Sukhoi, Giles, MX and the Pitts Special.
As an aerobatics pilot, Paul started competing in competition aerobatics in 1992, and since 1995, Paul started to compete in the unlimited class, flying a Stephens Akro Laser. Paul to this day still competes in the unlimited class.
Through participation in competition and unlimited classes of aerobatic flying, Paul has won many state titles, including being named national unlimited aerobatic champion. Paul has trained and honed his skills with the world’s best coaches, such as ex- French world champion pilots Coco Bessiere and Francois Levot, plus Russian champion Elena Klimovitch.
Over the years flying in competition, Paul has achieved many titles and awards, such as –
-Australian overall unlimited champion 2011.
-Winner of the National four minute freestyle Championship 2010/2011.
-Australian team member and highest placed Australian at the World Aerobatic Championships Italy 2011, and the USA , 2013.
-Competed internationally in New Zealand, USA, Italy, South Africa and Hungary.
-South African nationals advanced category flying a Zlin 50 via invitation in 2005.
-World Aerobatic Championships in Foligno, Italy flying an Extra 300S, 2011.
-World Aerobatic Championships Texas, USA during 2013 flying an MX aircraft MX2. Paul was part of a four man Australian team and placed 24th in the free program from a field of 52 pilots.
-New Zealand International Airshow Auckland, invited for the 2013 air race.
-European Aerobatic Championships in Matkopuszta, Hungary. Paul flew his new Extra 330SC and placed 17th in a field of 39 world class aerobatic pilots, 2014.
-Between 2011-2015, Paul was the captain of flying for the Australian Aerobatic Club. His duties included safety/disciplinary roles and coaching/mentoring of new competition pilots.
Paul has been flying high energy gyroscopic, and competition Aresti style unlimited aerobatics, since his first airshow appearance at Royal Australian Air Force Base Point Cook during 1996, flying a Stephens Akro Laser aircraft. (It is a basic intro to competition “Aresti” style aerobatics aimed at anyone interested in becoming involved with the sport).
Paul has performed at numerous locations around the country, with appearances at Victorian airshows that include Moorabbin, La Trobe Valley, Bairnsdale, Echuca, Hopetoun, Ballarat, Lilydale and the Australian International Airshow held at Avalon. In New South Wales, Paul has appeared at Mudgee, Narromine and Nowra, up north to Queensland and performances at the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) convention on the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg, and over to South Australia visiting Goolwa, Cummins, Barossa, Port Lincoln and Jamestown airshows over a twenty one year period flying the Extra 300S, Stephens Akro Laser or his homebuilt RV8 aircraft.
During 2010, Paul was invited to perform at the Red Bull Air Race held in Perth, with the organisers of the event providing Paul an Extra 300L to fly for their airshow displays in between race events and entertain the large crowds gathered along Perth’s magnificent Swan river.
Paul off late has also acquired a new aerobatic aircraft, the Extra 330SC, that is providing airshow organisers and attendees around Australia, the opportunity to witness one of the finest aerobatic aircraft built to date, that is currently being flown by Paul, who is a professional, imaginative, highly experienced and safe freestyle pilot, with the Extra 330SC being able to perform manoeuvres with a high speed roll rate, vertical penetration allowing lower start heights for figures, this in turn providing a more dynamic start and finish to each routine, and thus flying the aircraft into and out of gyroscopic manoeuvres with control and precision, giving a more dynamic and exciting aerobatic display.
Current Day –
Paul’s commitments to competition flying over the years has decreased somewhat with emphasis focused solely on airshows and corporate events via his sponsor, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. Paul last competed in Hungary during 2014 at the European Aerobatic Championships, and July 2016 saw Paul attend a training camp with RedBull Air Race pilot, Francois Levot in France.
Away from competitions and airshows, Paul enjoys flying for leisure. The year 2003 saw Paul take on the challenge of building himself a Vans RV8. This quick build aircraft was put together over a two and a half year period, with over 2000 hours of work put in. Paul attributes the completion, and the realisation of flying it for the first time at LaTrobe Valley Airport as a career highlight. His RV8, wearing the registration of VH-VPA, has over 400 hours total time on the airframe, and Paul takes great satisfaction in allowing others to fly alongside him and experience the joy of flight.
During the 2019 Australian International Airshow, Aviation Spotters Online was able to have a one on one interview with Paul, and as you’ll see in the video, Paul explains what it’s like to fly aerobatics at an elite level.
Aviation Spotters Online would like to thank the Airshow media team at Airshows Downunder for their assistance, and to Paul Andronicou, for his time, and for the use of his GoPro vision, which is included in the second video.