THE Ballarat Airport was abuzz yesterday, with thousands of people passing through its gates for the Airport Open Day.The free event took off at 10am, and young and old, families and aviation enthusiasts all packed in to make the most of the activities on offer.The event featured an array of aircraft, both on the ground and flying overhead, as well as cars and model trains.The Ballarat Aviation Museum opened its doors to those interested in the city’s aviation history, while helicopter joy rides proved popular with the thrillseekers in the crowd.There were door prizes and plenty of children’s activities on offer, including plaster model painting, jumping castles, paper plane competitions and face painting.Sarah and Barry Brennan took their boys Rex, 3, and Ted, 8 months, along for the family day out. While little Rex enjoyed the gliders and the free balloons, his parents said they enjoyed the historical displays.“It’s a great day for families, getting to see all the historic aircraft. It’s part of Ballarat’s history,’’ Ms Brennan said. Aerovision owner and operator Daryl Chibnall was on site to provide information on land management and emergency service planes.A pilot, Mr Chibnall said Ballarat was very fortunate to have the airport nearby.“It’s important to help Ballarat people realise the asset that aviation is to the community,’’ he said. “It offers protection – there’s a lot of places that don’t have the support so close.”Those after something a little more grounded were able to browse displays from various community clubs located at the airport.These non-aviation activities ranged from darts and snooker through to drag racing, slot cars, a Morris Minor club and bicycles. This year’s Airport Open Day was the first since 2008.