A life-defining passion: 3AW’s Tony Moclair lands dream Airshow role


It would be very easy to picture Tony Moclair – as an adult – excitedly marking off a calendar, counting down the days until Christmas.

Although in Tony’s case, Christmas this year falls on March 3rd and runs for three consecutive days.

Tony – host of 3AW’s Australia Overnight – is still pinching himself, after being announced as the lead commentator for this year’s Australian International Airshow in Avalon, Victoria.

Well known for his aviation obsession, Tony replaces fellow broadcast veteran and former Melbourne breakfast radio host Peter Meehan (pictured below) in the role.

Tony tells Radio Today he can’t wait for the adventure that awaits.

“It’s all still sinking in. I’ve been working closely with Pete in the lead up to this. He’s done every Airshow since 1992, which is extraordinary when you think about it.”

Tony is only too aware he’s got some big shoes to fill.

“To be taking over from someone of that stature is a little intimidating, but also very, very exciting.”

“I’ve been to every Airshow. I bring a lot of passion and knowledge. It’s still a daunting task, but I’m up to it.”

There are various facets to the commentary job.

“I’ll be in the booth with Peter, talking when the planes are flying, talking people through what the aircraft is and what it’s doing, and just giving some sense of showbiz, I guess, to the whole thing.”

“I’ll also be speaking to air crew and pilots. People will be coming into the booth. Roulettes pilots, for example.”

“It’s basically like a radio commentary of what people are seeing overhead.”

Aviation comes with a language all of its own, but Tony says the average person who comes out to see the Airshow doesn’t want to be bombarded with technical jargon.

“There’s a lot of technical speak, obviously, so the trick is to be able to convey it to people who don’t think about aviation 24/7 like I do, but have an interest in it nonetheless.”

In 2018, Tony took on the commentary duties for Wings over Illawarra, Australia’s second largest airshow.

Sitting atop the commentary stand above a crowd of thousands, watching classic aircraft flying all around him, broadcasting his thoughts, Tony was in his absolute, most joyous element.

“I was raised from the ground, I had a view of the entire apron and the hills surrounding the Illawarra. There was a Hornet there. An F1 11 there. To see everything that was going up – the noise and the exhilaration of things getting airborne there in front of you – I was the proverbial kid in the candy shop, I truly was.”

As a child, Tony was obsessed not with planes, but with trucks.

He spent a good deal of time in the Transport section of his local library in Mildura, reading every single truck book he could get his hands on.

Once he’d exhausted the library’s supply of those, he scanned the shelves and discovered the next section was devoted to books about aeroplanes.

“So I started reading those with a mate,” Tony remembers.

“We sent a request off to the Air Force to get some of those little PR booklets they used to send out to kids. They mailed some out.”

“I didn’t look back. Trucks became yesterday’s news.”

“Aviation took very deep root. It’s been a life-defining passion.”

Tony still covers all the automotive food groups – so to speak – with fellow aviation buff Peter ‘Grubby’ Stubbs in the popular segment Planes, Trains and Automobiles on 3AW’s Weekend Break.

“Grubby pitched the idea to (3AW Station Manager) Stephen Beers and we suddenly had an hour on our hands where we were allowed to talk about planes and trains.”

“The show ended up finding an audience, because people are interested in people who have a passion about something. That’s definitely Grub and me.”

Given the depth of his interest in aviation, you might be surprised to learn that Tony himself doesn’t fly planes.

Laughing, he says “No, I don’t. I’ve had a couple of lessons and that was enough to know that I’m better off on the ground than I am in the air.”

“Trust me, Sarah. You wouldn’t want to be next to me with things going badly in the sky because my first port of call would be to panic, and nobody wants that.”

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Mick Hedger
22 Feb 2023 - 8:10 pm

One of the best, and intelligent, broadcasters I have ever heard.
Great Tony Onya!

Dr C
23 Feb 2023 - 10:38 am

Congrats Tony on your Air Show commentary role.

23 Feb 2023 - 1:54 pm

Very jealous! Have been very lucky to commentate airshows in SA and this is the mecca. Congrats Tony!

24 Feb 2023 - 5:44 pm

Any chance Guido Hatsis could make an appearance?

27 Apr 2023 - 7:21 am

How is this guy not back doing prime time radio? More wit and intelligence than most of the pretenders that currently take up our airwaves.

15 Aug 2023 - 5:31 am

The producer or panel operator hung up on me saying I have called once before.

Tony was going to get a scoop about rotaors and international flights…..

Tony is let down by rude panel operator.


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