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Canberra Airport reflects as Parliament House turns 90

Ninety years ago on 9 May (2017), Canberra Airport will reflect on the role the then dirt airfield played in supporting the opening ceremony of Australia’s first Parliament House in 1927.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) used the airport at Duntroon Plain as it was known then to support its mass fly-past of 26 aircraft – Air Force’s full complement of aircraft – overhead the ceremony attended by the Duke and Duchess of York, there to officially open the building.

As the RAAF had no operational presence in Canberra, crews overnighted in a temporary camp at the Airport which was set up nearby to where our new terminal stands today.

At the camp, around 350 RAAF personnel and their aircraft from air force bases at Richmond, NSW, and Point Cook, Victoria, planned and prepared for the flight.

Taking off from the airport after a frosty start to the morning, all the aircraft, bar one, returned for landing after marking the momentous occasion in Australia’s democratic history.

Today, Canberra Airport regularly sees RAAF aircraft on its runways with 34 Squadron, Air Force’s VIP transport squadron, based at Defence Establishment Fairbairn on the north-eastern side of the precinct.

To celebrate the 90th anniversary, The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House is holding The Opening Day: 9 May 1927 exhibition from 2 May 2017 until May 2018.