When the rumour mill started turning earlier this year that an Antonov AN-124 might be coming to Avalon I’ll admit I was more then a little dismissive that this would eventuate. Not since the 1992 Airshow where the giant aircraft flew a jaw dropping display had there been a Ruslan at Avalon.
Fast forward to a month out from the Airshow and the confirmation that ‘yes the aircraft was coming’ was a pleasant suprise. Even better news was it would be bringing a Boeing AH-64E Apache to demonstrate to the Australian Defence Force as part of the Tiger ARH AIR 87 Phase 3 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Capability Assurance Program (ARH CAP) which is likely to turn into a replacement for the Franco-German helicopter.
So February 24th, at around 18:00 hours RA-82046 which is operated by Volga-Dnepr, Russia’s leading oversize and heavy cargo airline, arrived via runway 18 at Avalon. Volga-Dnepr was established in 1990 in Ulyanovsk, it was the first private airfreight company in Russia to provide commercial operations using An-124-100 Ruslan, freighters. The airline operates twelve An-124s along side five modernized IL-76TD-90VD freighters. The airline has a huge customer list providing oversize and heavy lift to companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, British Aerospace, General Electric, and Ericsson Air Crane to name but a few.
Being an older design the aircraft is configured in a traditional analogue setup. The aircrafts cockpit will usually fly with a 4-6 compliment of crew, including pilot, copilot, navigator, senior flight engineer, flight engineer, radio operator and between 2-6 loadmasters.
From the company’s own website they are proud to mention “Volga-Dnepr Airlines is a member to International Air Transport Association (IATA) and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA). The company has been certified to service all stages of the full production cycle ranging from training flight crews and carrying out international flights to conducting all types of aircraft maintenance. Company’s maintenance standards have been approved by US, British and Canadian aviation authorities.” The airline has also won awards for its services including ‘Best Cargo Charter Airline’. In April 2013, for the seventh time, the Airline won the Wings of Russia Award, Airline of the Year.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the company would only fly Russian made aircraft. Yes they do have a fleet of twelve AN-124 and five IL-76s, however the airline also own two other divisions. AirBridgeCargo Airlines and Atran Airlines are part of the group and fly the Boeing 747 and 737s respectively on scheduled cargo flights. Sixteen 747 are flown in the latest 8F, 747-400ERF and 747-400F versions. The three combined airlines employ over 3,500 employees in nine countries across the globe.
The word Antonov for spotters is one which will ensure the cameras are out when there is one arriving. While Antonov charters aren’t rare they aren’t that common in Australia. The AN-124 can be seen in Darwin or Perth a couple of times a year, when the type does venture into the Southern states and territories it does bring the spotters out.
Over the course of 12 months we have seen many Antonov aircraft transit through the country as photographed by the ASO team. Here are some of the aircraft in action.
Volga-Dnepr elected to not only fly the Apache to Avalon, the company also agreed to exhibit the An-124 over the course of the airshow. I met the crew on the opening day of the Trade Show and was impressed by their hospitality and wealth of experience and willingness to show me their pride and joy. I would like to thank Ilya and Quentin for their absolutly amazing hospitality and also for the time the whole crew gave me during my time spent with them. Thanks very much.
After the major success of the 1988 Bicentennial airshow held at Richmond Air Force base in the New South Wales Hawkesbury region, anything that was to follow would be hard to beat. The sight and sounds from all sorts of aircraft types from across the globe. With examples of F-111s preforming the famous Dump and Burn, QANTAS 747-338 low passes USAF F-15 High energy demonstrations, Massive transports from the USA C-5 Galaxy and Russian AN-124, it really was a feast for the eyes for aviation enthusiasts.
Following the Richmond show it was decided that a biennial event should be held, however the logistics of holding the event at Richmond wasn’t feasible. The then Victorian Premier, Mr Jeff Kennet, realised there was a demand for a industry based aviation trade show with a public airshow attached and, in 1992 the First Australian International Airshow was held at Avalon airport near Melbourne in Victoria.
Members of the team behind ASO have been attending the airshow since its inception and we thought that the airshow deserved its own story owing to the fact that soon, we will once again be turning our heads to the sky and watching aviation from the past, present and future in the skies above Avalon Airport.
The event is a major draw-card for the state of Victoria with over 200,000 people attending the 2015 event.
As the event is now staged for the thirteenth time, the team at ASO would like to share some of our favorite memories from Avalons past.
Dave Soda Soderstrom:
Having been to every airshow since 1992, it’s become something of a biennial pilgrimage for me. I can remember my Father coming to wake me up for the first one, I was so excited to be going that I was already up, dressed and ready to go. Even today it’s the same, wake up really early, head down to the airport and soak up the atmosphere.
Some of the highlights for me over the years would include the Antonov AN-124 and its very impressive display in 1992, the roar of the USAF RF-4C phantoms at the start of the airshow in 1995 and watching aircraft like the Su-27 and F-22 perform maneuvers which an aircraft shouldn’t be able to!
I think that we the public have been extremely privileged to see so many aircraft types at the airshow over the years, many of which are no longer flying. Examples like the RNZAF 727 and A-4 Skyhawks, RAAF F-111, HS-748 and 707, the RAF’s Nimrod and USAF Phantoms, and having been able to see and photograph these is a real treat.
This year I’m looking forward to seeing the RAAF P-8 and F/A-18G Growler, the RSAF F-15s and to see a USAF B-1 again!
I’ve been to almost every show…..and for most I have taken my father along with me. I’ve always loved that Avalon appeals to such a broad range of people….there is literally something for everyone.
As someone who has now worked in the aviation industry for over 6 years I love the trade days and the huge effort that goes into providing a world class trade event. I can spend hours in the halls looking at the latest news and products from such a wide spectrum of the industry.
But of course I still love the flying displays, those which make the show so memorable!
I’ve only been taking photos for the last few years though so my pictures are from the last show, the 2015 Australian International Airshow.
Being a Geelong boy its kind of my home town airshow so its always good to get back there.
In 1992 I was in my final year at High School and getting ready for my HSC but as luck would have it I was invited down to the first Australian International Air Show at Avalon by family friends. My role at the show was to drive pilots to aircraft or any other VIP’s around which gave me very good access to parked up aircraft. I was still very new to photography but loved aircraft. While my standard was very low I do remember that it was an awesome show.
It would take another 23 years before I would have the chance to come back to Avalon to enjoy the show and I hoped I had learnt a thing or two in that time on how to get a better photo. The line up was very impressive and for me the show was awesome but something that I didn’t think would impress me as much as it did was the World War One aircraft. To see this many old school aircraft in the air at once right above you was awesome, the sounds and sights had to be seen to be believed. It was also the Temora based CAC Sabre would put on a public display for sometime so this was also high on my list of displays I needed to see. As luck would have it I got to be in a helicopter shooing Air to Air of the display and after many years capturing this jet it was one of those happy but sad moments. Bring on 2017.
I remember my first Avalon show, back in 1995 well, not least because I was there as support crew for one of the flying attractions, MiG-21UM, VH-XXI. Operating from the fast jet flight line, we were in the midst of a wonderful lineup of RAAF Hornets and Kiwi and Singaporean Skyhawks. The Russians had a strong presence with a few larger types and, undoubtedly the star of the show that year, Anatoly Kvochur and the incredible Su-27 Flanker.
Then, of course, there were the Phantoms! As an avid Phanom-o-phile, but never having seen an operational one in rea life (that I could remember), I had been aware that there was a detachment of RF-4Cs from the Nevada Air National Guard at Amberley at the same time that Avalon was on and was hoping like mad that they might send one to the show. Imagine my absolute delight to arrive at the show one morning to find out that, not only had they sent two, but the one slated for some flying appearances was parked just a few meters away on the flight line with us!
It was an incredible week of great displays and experiences. The RAAF Hornets and F-111s, airfield attacks by the Kiwis in their A-4s, the water-bombing displays by the Russians in their Il-76, the awesome displays from the Singaporean A-4SUs fitted with the more powerful F-404 engines, Phil Frawley putting our MiG through its paces, the incredible Su-27 and, of course, the chance to actually see an F-4 fly for the first time. An awesome week, topped off by taking part in the last display by VH-XXI on the Sunday afternoon as self-loading-ballast.
My only other visit to Avalon was during one of the trade days in 2007 where we were treated to an incredible display of agility by the Italians in their C-27 Spartan demonstrator. It must have worked too as ten years on we will see the first appearance of the RAAF’s new C-27J at the show in 2017. It remains to be seen however, whether the RAAF’s display (if there is one) will be as adventurous as the Italian test pilots a decade ago.
There was also a strong presence from US forces with F-15s, F-16s, Super Hornets and an E-3 AEWAC. Another interesting comparison historically as this year the RAAF will have its own Super Hornets on show (including the brand new EF-18G Growler versions) and its own AEWC capability in the E-7 Wedgetail. There is also slated to be another strong presence from the US with F-22s, F-16s, B-1B, KC-135, C-17 and P-8 Poseidon. Add these to the announced list so-far of an example of every type in the ADF inventory, Singaporean F-15SGs, KC-135 & C-130, RAF A-400M, JASDF KC-767, RCAF & RNZAF C-130s and Armee De L’air (French Air Force) CN-235, alongside civilian performers such as Skip Stewart & Jurgis Kairys, Australia’s own Paul Bennet Airshows & the Sky Aces, the Southern Knights, Johan Gustaffson, Bob Carlton, HARS, Temora and many other warbird and private types and this year is shaping up to be another one for the history books.
As Airbus A350-941 (B-LRI) Flight CX105 settled onto runway 16 on Wednesday the 1st Feb around 12:20pm, it wasn’t just another Cathay flight, it was the airlines first A350 flight into Melbourne. Another big day for this great airline.
Cathay is no stranger to Melbourne and Australia for that matter, already the airline operates three services into Melbourne’s International Airport at Tullamarine. Today’s flight was the first operated by the new generation of airliners the Airbus A350 which until today is usually flown by one of the airlines Airbus A330’s. Cathay is upgrading the types of aircraft serving Melbourne which in turn is an increase in capacity. From March 777-300ERs will replace the CX178 and CX163 flights. Cathay Pacific Cargo also operates into Melbourne with either a Boeing 747-400F or 747-8F on scheduled services. Cathay took deliver of their first A350 at the companies Toulouse factory in France on Sunday, 29 May 2016.
Some background to Cathay Pacific;
Cathay has a long association with Australia, the airline being started by Australian Syd de Kantzow and American Roy Farrell. The two pilots saw a demand for a service from Asia to Australia. The two men, one an amateur pilot (Roy) who had been flying for CNAC (China National Aviation Company) and Syd who had done everything from being a test pilot to flying Blenheim bombers in the Royal Air Force, the two soon found themselves flying and operating over what was known as the ‘Hump’. This service over the Himalayan mountains cemented the idea that an airline service from Asia to Australia was required. Soon after the first aircraft was purchased, the tried and proven Douglas Commercial 3 or DC-3. The first aircraft ‘Betsy’ as it had been christened began its trade flying between China and Australia. The two officially registered the airline as Cathay Pacific in 1946.
Why Cathay Pacific? Well the two men put some thought into this. Cathay was the ancient name given to China and Farrell believed that one day they would fly across the Pacific. The airline quickly grew and by 1947 three more DC-3s were added as well as a Catalina flying boat.
A prominent feature on Cathay aircraft from the earliest of days was the ‘Swire’ logo on the fuselage. In 1948 Butterfield & Swire, today trading as Swire Group purchased a 45% stake in Cathay Pacific, with Australian National Airways taking 35% with Farrell and de Kantzow taking 10% each.
Of course today Cathay Pacific is much expanded and serves over 168 destinations in 42 countries and territories. From the humble beginnings with a single DC-3 to today’s fleet of 143 aircraft which includes, Airbus A330-200/300s, A340s, Boeing 777-200/300s and Freight configured Boeing 747-400 and 8Fs and the new Airbus A350s, the airline continues to be rated in the top ten of the world’s airlines.
Cathay has 48 of the Airbus A350 on order, a mix of the 900 and the newer & larger 1000 model, and have selected the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. These engines make the A350 one of the quietest among the aircraft types in its class and also 25% more fuel efficient than previous generation aircraft. Airbus has designed the A350 to maximize the well-being of its passengers with a quieter cabin, panoramic windows, LED mood lighting and larger overhead lockers to make a passenger journey more comfortable and across all the cabin classes
The A350 Business Class seats are an evolution of the of airlines award-winning long-haul Business Class product . A bed that folds into a completely flat position, allows for extra stowage space along with a ‘personalized service’ offered by a “Do Not Disturb” and “Wake Up Call” function in the entertainment system.
Not to be forgotten the Premium Economy Class and Economy Class seats are loaded with new features this includes a dedicated tablet holders ( we all need somewhere to hold the IPAD) and passenger exclusive power outlets and USB ports. In Premium Economy Class the seat gives each passenger has a leg rest which, together with seat, gives you more flexibility to adjust for optimal comfort.
A new aircraft also means a new inflight entertainment system. Connectivity is installed for the first time in a Cathay Pacific aircraft, (hence the hump on the rear fuselage) All seats come with the latest high-definition touchscreen personal TVs and offer a selection of movies, TV, live news channels and music. Inflight Wi-Fi is also available to connect to family, work and world events or that important Facebook update.
ASO would like to wish Cathay Pacific and its crews a warm welcome to Melbourne in their new Airbus A350-900XWB!
Aviation Spotters Online is proud to partner with Melbourne International Airport to present the photos and article above and thank them for their great hospitality.
It was a wet winter and an even wetter spring across most of Victoria this year. With these high levels of moisture its hardly surprising that fuel levels across the state are now high. And as the state moves into summer, Emergency Management Victoria which is the government body established to operate and manage any emergency in the state. EMV presented to the media its fleet of aerial assets today which includes everything from drones to the Large Aerial Tankers or LATS.
These assets are part National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) which is also part of the larger Australian Government operation which brings together all the states and territories, established to operate the various types of aerial firefighting assets.
The days proceedings were initiated by the Emergency Management Commissioner of Victoria, Craig Lapsley, who along with Emergency Services Minister James Merlino, Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief, Stephanie Rotarangi, MFB Acting Chief Officer, Paul Stacchino, CFA Deputy Chief Officer and Bruce Byatt, were all present to introduce the stand up of the fleet in Victoria as of the 14th December 2016.
A small representation of some the fleet were proudly on display and their capabilities were exhibited by their various operators. This season some 48 assets are on contract up from the 40 from the previous season. Commissioner Lapsley highlighted the continued investment by the Government in the aerial assets and also explained the trial of night vision aided bombing this season. Emergency Services Minister James Merlino, inspected the various aircraft and helicopters today reaffirming the governments commitment to these vitally important assets in conjunction with ground based fire fighting equipment.
Above is Coulson Aviation’s Lockheed C-130Q Hercules N130FF or ‘Bomber 390’. This aircraft started life with the United States Navy (USN) as a EC-130Q being used in the Take Charge And Move Out or TACAMO role where its core role was as a communications relay in the event of a crisis. After its service with the Navy it was then transferred to NASA being used by the American Space agency until around 2004. It was then purchased by Coulson and became part of their Next Generation Airtanker project. The aircraft is linked via a secure datalink to its home base which tracks the aircraft’s performance and drop statistics. The aircraft arrived into Avalon on December 12 where the aircraft and crew cleared customs and began preparations to start the contract.
Conair’s/ FieldAir’s British Aerospace Avro RJ85 C-GVFK or ‘Bomber 391’ This particular air frame was originally delivered to Lufthansa Cityline in 1995. Built at British Aerospace’s Woodford production facility the now 21 year old air frame certainly doesn’t look it. The RJ85 proved its worth in the 2015/16 fire season with its quick turn around and deployments in not only Victoria but in Tasmania and South Australia as well. Converted with a bolt on water tank and drop design so as not to compromise the aircraft structure the RJ85 is back for its third fire season. The 11,305 litre retardant tank capacity and combined with the four jet engines makes this aircraft well suited to slower speed water drops and the reliability and power from them. One of several RJ’s in the Conair fleet this aircraft has been found to be a very well suited air frame to firebombing, with the eighth air frame now under conversion. The RJ85 arrived in Avalon on December 5.
Also returning to operate along side the LATs is the vitally important Birddogs. These aircraft which includes Aero Commander 690 VH-CLT or Birddog 376, which is operated by Tasmaian Seafoods, are tasked with the assessment of the fire and provide a lead in for the LATs and VLAT’s.
The return of the King? Not quite. Kestrel Helicopters in conjunction with Erickson Air-Crane are back and have provided two of their S-64E Air Cranes this season. N217AC Helitak 341 and N957AC Helitak 342. In a change from last season one of the cranes will be based at Moorabbin airport instead of Ballarat in the states North. This has been replaced by a smaller Bell 412 which which is better suited to operations in that area.
Another type on display was the Squirrel helicopter exhibited in two forms by Microflight with VH-XXW and VH-LSR. Both preform very different functions.
VH-LSR, an AS350B2 model is part of the Westpac Life saver RESCUE fleet. Normally based in Barwon Heads on Victoria’s surf coast this helicopter will be tasked for Search and Rescue when it is needed in the event of an emergency. VH-XXW also a Squirrel type an AS350B3 is fitted out with an in-house developed sophisticated surveillance system Microflite developed this from the ground up with a Wescam MX-10 camera. A single crew member in the rear cabin has three camera sensors which enables the crew to monitor the fires in both infra-red and in high definition which is sent in real time to the Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) control room when the machine is overhead an active fire which is vital for making accurate decisions in real time thus enabling the fire to be managed more effectively.
Of course this is but a small snap shot of the types and their roles preformed this season. ASO will bring you a full coverage of the whole fleet at seasons end.
ASO wishes to thank our hosts for the event today and their hospitality.
Ruslan (Руслан) which translates to Russian, is the name given to one of the more interesting types which was the cause of much hype for Aviation Spotters at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport this week. The mighty Antonov AN-124 ‘Condor’ a type which is seen in may airports in Europe, as it is used to haul oversize and heavy freight from place to place.
Designed during the cold war by the Antonov design bureau in the Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union (USSR) the aircraft first flew on the 26 December 1982. A requirement by the USSR for a larger strategic transporter then the AN-22 Turboprop, the AN-124 entered service with in 1986 with the Air Force. Since then approximately 50 have been built since this date in several versions.
Powered by four 229.47 kN or 51,622 lb trust ZMDB D-18T turbofan engines, which allows the aircraft to reach a top speed of 800 km/h. The AN-124 has some noticeable claims to its name including a record achieved in July 1985, where an An-124 carried 171,219 kg (377,473 lb) of cargo to an altitude of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) and 170,000 kg to an altitude of 10,750 m (35,270 ft). The aircraft is able to haul 88 passengers on top of the cargo load, in a pressurized compartment in the top part of the aircraft. The lower deck isn’t pressurized.
The first production version was the afore mentioned AN-124 which was followed by the AN-124-100 commercial transport, the AN-124-100M-150 which has Western Avionics installed, the AN-124-150 with increased payload and the AN-124-300 which is a newer improved version for the Russian Air Force.
One of the aircraft unique features is the ability to kneel and lower the lower deck closer to the apron for quicker and easier loading.
Ruslan, UR-82007 is a 1986 build aircraft owned and operated by Antonov Design Bureau, the aircraft arrived into Tullamarine as flight no ADB2800 from Darwin. The aircraft was hauling two Rheinmetall 8×8 Boxer, Armoured Personnel Carrier’s. The two APC’s were being delivered to the Australian Army. The two APC’s will undergo testing and evaluation to find a replacement for the current ASLAV’s and M113 APC’s used by the Army.
A new Airline arrived into Melbourne Airport on a clear blue Friday morning, on the 30th September 2016. Beijing Capital Airlines which operates as Capital Airlines is a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines from China. Launched on April the 2nd in 2010 Capital Airlines is based at Beijing International Airport, China. The airline is part of the HNA Group, who is also invested in Virgin Australia.
Operating its first service into Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport (YMML) was B-8221, an Airbus A330-243 as flight number JD461 from Qingdao Liuting International Airport (ZSQD), landing at 08:39am.
Beijing Capital Airlines has a fleet of 65 aircraft and flies some 131 routes including 21 international destinations. The Melbourne route is the airlines’ first into the southern hemisphere. The airline will operate services to Melbourne three times a week, connecting Victoria with the Chinese cities of Shenyang and Qingdao.
China is the largest source of international visitors to Victoria, with Melbourne Airport seeing some 798,000 arrivals from there in the 12 months ending April 2016.
A significant date for the United States Air Force this week. September 18th 2016 marks the 69th anniversary of the largest Air Forces in the world. Formed as a separate branch of the United States Army on this date, the current U.S.A.F is today a service which operates more than 5,137 military aircraft, 450 ICBMs and 63 military satellites. It has a $161 billion budget with 307,001 active duty personnel, 177,221 civilian personnel, 69,200 Air Force Reserve personnel, and 105,500 Air National Guard personnel.
The U.S.A.F is a frequent visitor to Australia both in the past and also in the present. Aviation Spotters Online wishes the United States Air Force and its serving personal a Happy Birthday and many many more.
We present this Gallery of U.S.A.F aircraft as our salute to them.
Video of Wild Weasel F-16C as seen at Avalon Airshow 2015.
Friday, 16th of September 2016, saw the official unveiling of the RAAF Museum’s newest ‘aircraft’. A fiberglass Supermarine Spitfire MK VIII LF A58-492.
The idea for this display was born some three years ago and today members from 79 Squadron, their families, RAAF Officials and invited guests were present for the ceremony. MC for the event, OPSO SQNLDR Glen Coy CSC, welcomed the guests including the Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies. The Air Marshal’s speech highlighted and thanked those who were involved in the new display. The Friend’s of the RAAF Museum (represented by Mr Howard Franks) alongside corporate donors including Rolls Royce, represented by Mr Lee Doherty MBE (Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Region Rolls Royce), the RAAF Association and a host of other smaller donors, came together to see this project to completion.
The replica which was constructed in the United Kingdom by Gateguards, who have produced a full size replica weighing 1500 Kilograms and made to withstand the harsh Australian weather.
79 Squadron formed at Wooloomanata, Victoria, on 26 April 1943. Two months later the Squadron was soon deployed to Goodenough Island Papua New Guinea flying the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII in both the Low Flying (LF) and High Flying (HF) versions. Missions that were conducted included fighter sweeps and bomber escorts for the remainder of the year, recording three confirmed enemy ‘kills. The squadron was plagued with many operational issue relating to the Spitfire, and suffered many losses of both man and machine. Operations were continued there until January 1945, where the Squadron was moved south to Darwin. Action didn’t cease however, a month later on the island of Morotai they were back in action against the Japanese. After Japan’s surrender the Squadron moved to Queensland where it disbanded on 12 November 1945.
The Squadron was reformed in 1962, No 79 Squadron was sent to war in Ubon, Thailand, as part of Australia’s commitment to the Vietnam War. It was expected for there to be a invasion of Thailand by North Vietnamese forces. This was never to eventuate, however the Squadron’s CAC Sabres were kept on a constant state of readiness and fully armed, for five years.
Again the Squadron was disbanded after the war, and after a hiatus some 18 years (1986), was reformed to fly the then current front line fighter, the GAF built Mirage IIIO. The Squadron was then based at RAAF Butterworth in Malaysia. On the 30th June 1988 the Squadron was once again disbanded, this also marking the end of the RAAF’s presence in Malaysia.
1998 came and 79 Squadron was once again reactivated this time located at RAAF Base Pearce, WA. The Squadron was formed to operate the Australian built Aermacchi MB-326H or ‘Macchi’ which was soon replaced by the BAE Hawk 127 in the year 2000. Today the Squadron is responsible for the Introductory Fast Jet Flying for RAAF pilots selected from No 2 Flying Training School, other task include Hawk refresher and Instructor Conversion Courses, Fleet support to Navy Operations, and Close Air Support.
The ceremony opened with two BAe Hawk 127s A27-10 and A27-33 deployed form RAAF Pearce to conduct a fly over the Spitfire replica. The two jets were an impressive sight as they passed overhead.
The Temora Aviation Museum provided a real treat for the invited guests. The museum’s Mk.VIII Spitfire VH-HET one of two operational Spitfires in the collection was present. The aircraft is painted as the personal mount of Royal Australian Air Force, Wg. Cdr Bobby Gibbes of 80 Wing RAAF 457 Squadron, based on Morotai in 1945. The aircraft serial number is A58-758 however it is marked as A58-602. Flown down from Temora and displayed for the ceremony attendees by ex RAAF F/A-18 Hornet pilot and current Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall.
Matt gave a spirited display over the ceremony with the amazing song playing from the Rolls Royce Merlin engine heard across the base. Once the display was finished Matt joined the invited guests in the Mess Hall for Morning Tea.
Matt was kind enough to be available to answer questions and pose for photos while at Point Cook. As the afternoon rolled on the Spitfire was prepared for departure. Some of Temora’s crew including Kenny Love (Chief Executive), Peter Harper (Marketing Manager & WH&S Facilitator) and Brenden Maxwell (Apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer) were on hand to see the departure of Matt and the Spitfire.
So, if you are in the Point Cook area, there’s yet another reason to stop by the RAAF Museum and wander though the exhibits and take in some unique Australian aviation history.
With thanks to Point Cook, RAAF Media, Temora Aviation Museum and Matt Hall for the opportunity to cover this significant occasion.
He’s known as the ‘Father of the 747’ or the ‘Jumbo Jet’.
Joe Sutter, the chief engineer behind the design and build of Boeing’s iconic model 747, passed away on Tuesday, August 30, at the age of 95.
Joe joined the US Navy serving on the destroyer escort, Edward H Allen during World War Two. Joe also worked at the Douglas Aircraft Co before joining Boeing, where he worked on the 707 and 737 and 747 programs.
It was Joe who invented the wide body airliner concept, allowing one aircraft to carry more passengers further than the then in production 707. Joe led the engineering team who delivered the project in 29 months from conception to rollout.
The 747 was launched to the world in 1966, built to carry 370 passengers. Pan American would be the launch customer with an order of 25. Known by many around the world as the ‘Queen of the Skies’, the 747 first flew in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.
Boeing have now delivered over 1,500 747s to many operators and though the type is in its twilight of production in the current 747-8 form, it will be many years before the last of them applies the park break for the last time.
Aviation Spotters online presents our tribute to Joe and the Boeing 747.
The 747 first appeared in Australian skies in 1971, QANTAS ordered four of the 747B (later 200 series) thus making it the first customer for this version. It was also at this time that QANTAS became the worlds only all 747 operator. QANTAS eventually went on to order the COMBI version (which carried cargo and passengers on the main deck) the SP (Special Performance) 2 of which were ordered.
Next in service was the 300 series the first 747 with the extended upper deck, six of these were to see service. 1989 the 747-400 entered service with the airline after an appearance at the Farnborough airshow the aircraft flew non-stop London to Sydney entering the record books as the longest flight by a civilian airliner at that time. Incedently this same aircraft is now preserved. VH-OJA is at the excellent Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Facility in Albion Park NSW. That wasn’t the end to QANTAS and the Boeing 747 orders. In 2002 the 747-438ER version of which QANTAS was the only airline to order the passenger version entered service with the airline to further extend QANTAS’s reach into the USA. A total of 65 different 747s not including leased aircraft have been operated by QANTAS over the years.
Of course QANTAS wasn’t the only operator of the 747 in Australian skies. Ansett Airlines in 1994 introduced the 747-312 into its operations with three aircraft being leased from Singapore Airlines. VH-INH, VH-INJ and VH-INK, operating Sydney to Hong Kong.
In 1999 Ansett replaced its Boeing 747-312s with two Boeing 747-412, and it became a full member of the Star Alliance. VH-ANA and ANB. In the time the 747 and Ansett operated the airline became the official carrier for the Olympic Games held in Sydney in 2000. so several Olympic schemed aircraft flew. Sadly for Ansett employees, passengers and enthusiasts this all came to an end in 2001 when Ansett went into receivership with the two 747s returning to Singapore Airlines.
One thing we can all agree on is there is a mass of airlines and airplanes the world over. While it’s fun chasing liveries and specific types in your local area, state or around Australia, the rest of the world has some interesting things to see as well. So with this in mind I and a few like minded spotters decided to head to Thailand for a week to spot the two major airports in and around Bangkok. If you’re not familiar with the airports in Bangkok we better give you a run down on the localities. Bangkok has two major airports: – Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang International Airport (DMK).
An interesting fact is Suvarnabhumi (translated means ‘Golden Land’) is the largest airport in the world encompassing 2,980 hectares and is also the main hub for Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways. Also interestingly it claims to have the world’s tallest free-standing control tower at 132.2 metres or 434 feet and the world’s fourth largest single-building airport terminal 563,000 square metres or 6,060,000 square feet. In 2015 the airport handled 52.9 million passengers, up by nearly 14 percent from the previous year. Costing an estimated ฿155 billion (approximately $7 billion AUD), the airport has two parallel runways (60 m wide, 4,000 m and 3,700 m long) and two parallel taxiways to accommodate simultaneous departures and arrivals (more on this later). Some very impressive stats I think you’ll agree.
Having been to Bangkok many years ago I was really looking forward to returning to Thailand and my traveling companions and myself were not disappointed in the variety, rarities and oddities which we saw.
This overview will present you a snapshot of the airport, spotting and show the variety of aircraft which can be seen operating to it. Most of my spotting for BKK was done from the fantastic Phoenix Airport, which provides you with a rooftop spotting area in between the two parallel runways 19R and 19L. The Hotel is fantastic and the staffs are very friendly and accommodating. The Phoenix Hotel is located approximately 15 minutes from the airport, roof top viewing provides great photos where a 100-400 lens with a zoom length of approximately 100-200 is needed for large airliners and 250-350 for smaller aircraft. Of course this will depend on your camera gear for the clarity and the like.
We did venture out to look at other locations including a small fishing village where we were treated to some stools to sit and enjoy the afternoon shooting with the light behind us. The taxi drive to this spot was 10 minutes and cost about $10 AUD. One piece of advice I can recommend to anyone thinking of spotting in Thailand is take large quantities of water and sunscreen. Both are needed in abundance. The days we spent outside saw it reach high 30s and with humidity getting as high as 80%.
Weather can play a big part of spotting and of course being in a tropical environment storms are inevitable. This means that you’re adjusting your camera settings to compensate for the changes in light. I did learn a lot about my cameras ability and my own strengths and weaknesses in the ever changing conditions. Now let’s get onto the good stuff! Bangkok is probably one of the more interesting places in the world for the variety of airlines. Over 100 serve the airport around the year. On top of this is approximately 25 plus freight operators. The variety of types is as interesting as the airlines. BKK is defiantly the biggest hub for 747 operators and fans of the type like me are well catered for!
With regular visits from types like the A340, 767, A330, 777 and also rarities like 757s and even the odd A310 calling into the airport daily it is a spotters paradise. Personally it was never a dull moment watching Flight Tracker24 or FlightAware and looking at the types lining up on their way in was fantastic. Incidentally the hotel offers free Wi-Fi as does many of the places around Bangkok to aid your spotting.
So onto the planes as there is so much variety I’ve divided them up into the various types. So many airlines operate into BKK so the photos are numerous. So sit back and enjoy this photo diary of a week at the airport.
Boeing 747 operators:
Boeing 777 Operators:
Boeing 787 Operators:
Boeing 767 Operators:
Boeing 757 Operators:
Boeing 737 Operators:
Airbus A380 Operators:
Airbus A340 Operators:
Airbus A350 Operators:
Airbus A310 Operators:
Airbus A330 Operators:
Airbus A321 Operators:
Airbus A319 Operators:
Airbus A320 Operators:
I’d like to say a massive thank you to the staff at the Phoenix Hotel located at 88 Ladkrabang Soi 7 Ladkrabang Bangkok . My Thai isn’t that great but they were very accommodating and made the experience one to remember. The food was absolutely a highlight here, and is something I’m already missing. Also a big thanks to Thai Airways for very comfortable flights to and from Bangkok. The service and friendly staff means that I will be flying with you again soon.
Finally to enable this article to happen, I need to make mention of the photography equipment and guidance form a friend. I use Canon equipment for all my stories. Currently I’m, using a Canon 7D with a 100-400 f4.5-5,6 IS for the photos in this article, all saved onto Sandisk CF cards and edited using an Apple MacBook Pro.