HARS remains part of Wings

WITH fire safety work still under way, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society says it will still be able to contribute to Wings Over Illawarra as normal.

HARS president and chief pilot Bob De La Hunty said the continued closure would not affect the event, which attracted about 15,000 people last year.

"It'll be the same as last year - all the aircraft will be on the tarmac," he said.

"We did get approval for one of the hangars to be available."

Mr De La Hunty anticipated that it could be early next year before HARS could open to the public fully.

"We've been sending [the public] away in droves but little can be done until the process is complete," he said.

"It's very difficult every time we have visitors and can't open."

The society closed its doors voluntarily in August to have fire systems installed.

Shellharbour City Council issued an order three weeks later, restricting access to the building to HARS members involved in construction work.

The interim occupational certificate covered hangars one, two and three.

So far, work has been done on emergency fire stairs, doors and lighting, but the society is currently waiting for engineers to draw up a plan for the sprinkler systems.

"We've spent about half a million dollars so far, including the consultant for the fire and smoke detection system," he said.

"We expect to spend another half a million on the installation."

A lift for those with a disability also needed to be installed.

However, Mr De La Hunty said the society felt encouraged by the community to get the work done and it would put programs in place to attract tourists once it could open.

"It is a major asset for the community, which will generate jobs - it's something that few communities get the opportunity to do," he said.

Mr De La Hunty said the society was still working towards using the former Illawarra Co-operative Central Dairy factory on Creamery Road as a storage facility.

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