Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

All posts by Leigh Atkinson

Great Eastern Fly In all fired up!

The 6th and 7th of January saw a diverse collection of aircraft gather at the Evans Head Memorial Airfield for the Great Eastern Fly In. The two day show features some classic historic aircraft both as fly in visitors and display aircraft. All of the featured aerial displays had something special about them. From the power of Steadfast to the airfield attack by the T-28 Trojan. Plenty going on with lots of aircraft landing and taking off. On top of that all of the displayed aircraft are two seaters and available for adventure flights. Additionally the airshow is supported by a market on the Saturday and a fabulous show and shine car show on the Sunday.

Take a wander through the images below that highlight the two days of this friendly air show.

Ex RAAF Winjeel taxiing out for another of many flights over the weekend.
Steadfast … launching …. smoke on!
One delightful V12 among all of that radial beauty.
Some of the relaxed crowd enjoying the beautiful weather and aviation thrills.


Mark Awad launching in his ex-RAAF CA-25 Winjeel
A 1941 DH-82 Tiger Moth VH-FAG (ex A17-316) … one of the many delightful fly in visitors during the air show.


As always one of the most impressive displays is Cameron Rolph-Smith in his Yak-52. The first time I saw Cameron display this aircraft it changed my perception of the Yak-52. The Yak offers +7/-5G and this guy certainly knows how to get the most out of his aircraft. Always great fun to watch!

Cam Rolph-Smith pushing his Yak-52 nice and hard (as always)



The classic looking but very modern Waco.


The SNJ from Caboolture. This is a great sounding aircraft and beautifully presented.


Littl’ Jugs

This Ex-USAF T28A Trojan started service with the USAF back in 1951. Looks like it had an interesting life being stolen out of storage in the mid 60’s and sold off illegally to the Haitian Air Force. Later returning to the US in 1970 under private registration Littl’ Jugs landed here in Australia in 2011.  During the air show the Trojan performed a simulated airfield attack … love that radial noise.

T-28 Trojan “Littl Jugs” screams down the runway heading out to perform it simulated air field attack.


T-28 Trojan performing a simulated airfield attack.


P-51D Mustang- The Flying Undertaker

The Great Eastern Fly In was a real “radial fest” (which is awesome …!) but among all that round engine goodness was another stand out classic all of its own. The delightful note of the Packard built Merlin engine in the Mustang never gets old. The noise as this beauty winds up for a fast pass still gives me a shiver. Pilot Cameron Rolph-Smith knows how to show this classic piece of hardware off to the best of its high performance abilities. 

P-51 Mustang “The Flying Undertaker” taxiing after another adventure flight


Sweeping high speed pass of this beautiful piece of aviation history.


Rolling over the top.

A classic Black and White treatment for an aviation classic.


Shot at 1/125 Sec (not exactly slow for a panning shot)



“The Flying Undertaker” in full flight and all her glory.





Steadfast … this aircraft is a beast. Multi world record holder (including the speed record for its class at 655km/h), custom built ex-Reno racer built on a Yak 3 air frame. Fast, loud and a damn fine looking aircraft. She is powered by a 1750hp Pratt and Whitney R2000 engine. With the addition of the wingtip smoke generators this aircraft is a ‘must see’ if you get the chance. In the hands of experienced Pilot James Crockett this hotted up Russian fighter is a real joy to watch and hear. Of course she is a two seater as well … so for a few Rubles you can get a real taste of that speed and 4G maneuverability.  

Some of what we have come to expect from a “Steadfast” display.
The powerhouse of this custom Yak-3, the 1750 HP R2000 radial.
James Crocket taking Steadfast … fast and furious.
Steadfast … up and over.
James getting Steadfast all fired up!
The belly of the beast … Yak-3 Steadfast showing her profile.

Fly in Visitors

Along with the displaying aircraft there were a mix of numerous GA, Warbirds and vintage traffic coming and going during the day. From From Tiger Moths to Yaks to Bonanzas.

The DH-60M Moth launches into the Saturday afternoon sky.
During the air show there are constantly helicopters coming and going providing joy flights. Here VH-MNZ a Bell 47G heads out with another load of happy passengers.


V Tail bonanza cruising in to Evans Head.



The air show was well support by Emergency Services both on the ground and in the air.



Mark Awad again this time cruising past the moon.


The dates are all set for next year’s Great Eastern Fly In at Evans Head. It will be the 12th and 13th of January 2019.

I would highly recommend you go and check it out if you’re close by. 

For details you can keep a follow The Great Eastern Fly In on their Facebook page HERE 

For a two minute video rundown of a selection of images from the airshow take a quick look at this link  

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Evans Head – Heads Up

Its 2018 already and the air show calendar is kicking off with the first show of the year at Evans Head in Northern NSW this weekend. With a two day show on the 6th and 7th of January including some classic warbird action, this is one worth checking out if you can make it. 

“The Flying Undertaker” P-51D Mustang is always a feature at Evans Head.
Lil Jugs rumbles down the runway.
Part of the trainer formation that graced the skies in 2017.

As you can see from the attached shots last year’s show had the added interest of some damp weather which made for some spectacular take offs. The weather didn’t hamper the aerial action though and there was plenty to see from the coming and going GA traffic to the rescue chopper winching display. The latest information suggests the weather is looking good for this weekend!!

The Westpac rescue team put on a great display during the 2017 Great Eastern Fly In.

The Aerodrome has plenty of military history associated with it, being the WWII home of the No1 Bombing and Gunnery School and later No 1 Air Observers School as RAAF Base Evens Head. The onsite museum holds a nice static collection including ex RAAF F-111 A8-147.

Entry to the event is free and there is free onsite parking available.

Get up close and feel the noise of a classic V12
… or some big radial action!


The L-39 Albatross adds some jet age action to the mix.
Captain Cam in his Yak 52 always puts on an awesome display.
Some ultra light aircraft action gets amongst the warbirds.



On Saturday the aviation action is supported by a open air market and on Sunday a magnificent collection of vintage and sports cars roll up for the show and shine.

Some of the cool old rolling metal at the Show and Shine on the Sunday



For more information about the Great Eastern Flyin at Evans Head you can check out their facebook page HERE

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HEADS-UP Brisbane – Roulettes

Roulettes rolling over the top earlier this year at Wings Over Illawarra.

Hot on the heals of their return to the Brisbane Riverfire the Roulettes will be back in town Saturday morning as part of the Brisbane Open House. Whilst the Brisbane Open House is a opportunity to explore and celebrate the architecture of the city, one key part for aviation enthusiasts is the 10 am display at Archerfield Airport. The airport is throwing open their doors with air side tours between 10am and 4pm Saturday (only).

Roulettes and ready and waiting for this weekend.

To kick the day off the Royal Australian Air Force display team will be performing a one off display at 10am. So get down there early and make sure you take the time to get air side as well. 

Brisbane Open House includes the Roulettes at Archerfield Airport at 10am Sharp for a one only show.

For more information on the open house take a look HERE

Once the excitement of watching the Roulettes dies down you can spend the rest of the day touring dozens of famous and impressive buildings throughout Brisbane and there is even a photography competition being run as part of the Open House. – Take a look here

Roulettes in the 5 ship formation. Taken at Wings Over Illawarra earlier this year.


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Brisbane Riverfire 2017

Sunsuper Riverfire is the closing finale for the annual Brisbane Festival. Complete with a 20 minute fireworks display along 2 stretches of the Brisbane River with fireworks shooting from barges, high-rise buildings and bridges. The event is always well supported by the Australian Defence Force and this year was no exception. Two each of the Army’s and Navy’s MRH-90 Taipan Helicopters, a flypast be the C-17, the return of the Roulettes and for first time the EA-18G Growler opened the fireworks display with an afterburner pass that filled the city with noise.

17 Riverfire Roulettes (6)
The RAAF Roulettes triumphant return to Brisbane Riverfire.
17 Riverfire Roulettes (5)
The Roulettes doing an air display Queensland style.

The RAAF Roulettes opened the air display with a solid show that covered a good part of the city and drew plenty gasps and cheers from those in enjoying the warm day in the Southbank pool as well as the gathering 500,000 onlookers who lined the river to watch the event.

17 Riverfire Roulettes (2)
The Roulettes with their usual precise and tight display wowing the gathering crowd.
17 Riverfire MRH90 (5)
The Taipan Crew flashing past the QUT building.


As the afternoon moved on the river was stormed by 4 MRH-90 Taipan Multi Role Helicopters. The four of them making a grand entrance with a loud and low pass along the river before returning to show off their manoeuvrability. These were a big hit with the kids as the loadmasters and pilots gave plenty of waves to the crowd (what a great job these guys and girls have).

17 Riverfire MRH-90 (3)
A40-006 RAN 808 SQN crew giving the crowd a big wave.


17 Riverfire MRH-90 (1)
The A40-003 Army MRH-90 displays in front of the Brisbane skyline
17 Riverfire MRH-90 (2)
Onlookers enjoying the view as the MRH-90 heats the air above the Brisbane River.

 The arrival of the C-17 must have been on daylight savings time … (yes I know its QLD and I know daylight savings hadn’t started yet) as I was caught with my camera down. 

I made no such era with the arrival of the Growler for its display. I can only describe the display as short, sharp and full of punch. I love watching these fast jets scream through Brisbane and the 6 SQN Growler crew did a magnificent job. Who doesn’t love a full afterburner pass at what feels and sounds like tree top height. 

17 Riverfire Growler (1)
The RAAF Growler debut at Riverfire.


17 Riverfire Growler (2)
The RAAF EA-18G Growler pulling some Gs at the river bend to turn and take the other leg of the river.
17 Riverfire Growler (4)
A hearty welcome to the Growlers as they make an impression on the Riverfire crowd for the first time.

If your interested in the highlights of the fireworks I suggest you check out the ABC’s coverage HERE

If your interested in knowing more about the Brisbane Festival and its Sunsuper Riverfire finale take a look HERE 

If you want more information on getting one of those very cool jobs take a look at the Defence Jobs Website

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Heads UP Brisbane Riverfire – Roulettes are back!

The RAAF Roulettes are making a return to the Brisbane Festival finale over Brisbane this afternoon. Get in early, not just to secure your spot for the fireworks and the RAAF F/A-18G Growlers that will kick the fireworks off … but to watch the smooth moves of the Roulettes as they weave their magic lower than the rooftops along the Brisbane River. 


This will be the 6SQN Growlers first time to have the honour of opening the Riverfire fireworks display and Brisbane’s first good opportunity to feel the noise from the Growlers. 

Dave Soda - Growler avalon
RAAF F/A-18G Growler as displayed earlier this year at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon.

The ADF are here in force to support this 20th year of the event. In addition to the Growlers and the Roulettes the Australian Army will have 4 MRH90 Multi Role Helicopters buzzing the river.

Australian Army MRH-90 Taipan displaying over the Brisbane River at last year’s Riverfire.

And if that’s not enough for you then don’t forget the behemoth that is the mighty C-17 Globemaster will be swinging through to show off how nimble heavy metal can be.   These are a massive aircraft that are amazingly agile … one not to be missed.

The C-17 will be a welcome addition to the ADF aircraft this year. Here it was last year displaying off the Strand in Townsville.

Display times 

SATURDAY 30 September  2017
3.30pm RAAF Roulettes Display
4.30pm ARMY Helicopter Display (4 x MRH 90) 
5pm RAAF C-17A Globemaster fly over
5.15pm ARMY Helicopter Display (4 x MRH 90) 
5.40pm RAAF EA-18G Growler display
7.05pm RAAF EA-18G Growler fly over to signal start of fireworks


Best Vantage Points:

For the best vantage points including some you may not have thought about have a look here

For more information on Riverfire including parking and road closure information take a look at this.

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Vulcan turns 65 years old

The 30th of August marks the 65th Anniversary of the first test flight of the Avro Vulcan prototype VX770. Much has changed over those 65 years however the Vulcan is still reverred by the Brits. 

As a nuclear deterant the aircraft type served the UK well. The type was also used for maratime reconnaissance, as refuelers, nuclear fallout air samplers and conventional bombers. The Falklands war being the only combat mission where Vulcans delivered payload and the story of the Black Buck raids is an impressive piece of aerial logistics well worth reading about. 

In recent years if you wanted to see a flying version, the sole remaining example was XH558. After many years of having her wings clipped XH558 returned to the skies for a tour of duty as the Spirit Of Great Britain. Thanks to substantial public support this magnificent old jet spent 8 years touring the country showing off what British enginuity could do.  

I was honoured to be able to see some of the last flights of XH558 in July and September of 2015. Whilst I was in the UK I also got a glimpse behind the scenes of what it takes to keep a 60 year old Jet bomber in the air. 

VH558 soars over Coventry Airport during a display for the Vulcan to the Sky supporters in Sep 2015 (in the foreground of the shot is seent the right side of Gloster Meteor WA591 …another classic jet from a similar era)
Launching from her home base at Doncaster in July 2015
The Vulcan departs RAF Cosford in a fairly aggressive climb before a wingover and departure. This was my first every site of the Vulcan.
Still nimble …
Up on jacks at Doncaster dealing with a landing gear issue. SEP 2015
The Certificate of registration on the wall at the head office of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust in Hinckley. 
Part of the original maintenance mauals used for the maintenance of XH558


Happy 65th Birthday to the type!

Many thanks to my friends at the Vulcan to the Sky Club and the VTTS Trust. If youd like to know more about XH558 take a look here – http://www.vulcantothesky.org/home.html

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Heads UP Brisbane – Super Hornet and V8 Super Cars!


This weekend at Queensland Raceway the next round of the V8 Super Cars will be heard loud and clear. The Royal Australian Air Force will be there to support this event with a low level flypast by a single F/A-18F Super Hornet from 1SQN which is based just up the road at RAAF Base Amberley.


The good news is this pass will be low, fast and loud. The RAAF have told us that the single Super Hornet will pass north to south along the main straight as low as 150m.

The fly past will scream over the starting grid for Race 16 of the Virgin Australia Super Car Championships at up to 900 km/h at around 2PM Sunday. Oh … and watch out for the departure at the end of the straight … have your cameras ready as the F/A-18F will point the nose skyward and perform a full afterburner climb filling the race track with plenty of jet noise goodness!

Its great to see the RAAF and the 1SQN team from Amberley supporting the local leg of the V8s. Bring on the jet noise!

The Coats Hire Ipswich SuperSprint starts today and finishes Sunday afternoon, for more information on the race schedule, tickets and how to get there CLICK HERE.





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The Dark Side of Avalon.

The focus during the daytime sessions at the Australian International Airshow was fast moving and loud. When the sun went down for the Friday night session, it was time for the ASO team to turn their cameras to a slower shutter speed and take on some low light photography.

Instead of shooting at 2000th/sec as we might for a fast jet, we slowed our shutter speeds down. Most of these shots would not be considered long exposure, but given that almost all of them were shot hand held at speeds down to a 10th/sec they were long enough to capture a previously unexplored part of Avalon.

RAAF C-27J Spartan. Shot with a 14mm Nikkor lens at 1/10th, f/2.8 at 2000 ISO

Fellow Editor, Mark Jessop and I had another big day at Avalon on the Friday and stopped for a quick refreshment while the sun was starting to set. Wandering past the Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan the illumination of the head up display caught our eyes.



The next moment we were inside the aircraft chatting to the crew who were keen to help us with the cockpit lighting … the combination of the cockpit lighting and the colour in the sky through the windshield of the westerly facing aircraft just added a great glow to the cockpit.

RAAF C-27J Spartan Cockpit – Nikon D600, 14-24mm, f3.2, 1/80 sec, ISO2800.

  We moved quickly from the Spartan to the row of RAAF fighters alongside it as the last of the daylight faded. The RAAF’s fast jet line up included everything from the F/A-18 Classic, the 1SQN Super Hornet and the new 6SQN F/A-18G Growler and the latest arrivals, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning. It was an impressive collection and Mark and I were shooting them in the failing light with renewed enthusiasm.

the distinctive yellow and black stripes and tiger head of the 2OCU Hornet A21-108. 1/10th, f/2.8, 2000ISO at 14mm
The RAAF’s soon to be front line fighter … the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning’s Shot at 1/10 sec at f2.8 on a 24mm Nikon lens at 2000ISO
1/10, f2.8 at 24mm ISO 2000
RAAF E/A-18G Growler. Nikon D800, ISO 5000 1/50th at f.4
RAAF E/A-18G Growler. Nikon D800, ISO 5000 1/50th at f.4


RAAF C-130J-30 Firing off the flares. Nikon D800 ISO 1600 1/125th f.4
RAAF C-130J-30 Firing off the flares. Nikon D800 ISO 1600 1/125th f.4



 … and then the fireworks began.

We were busy making the most of the low light conditions and hadn’t been even vaguely aware that the fireworks display that is part of the Friday night show was about to change the ambience in a sudden and loud way. We both looked up with the first burst and instantly chased different angles.  

RAAF F-35's shining bright. Nikon : D800 ISO 4000 1/50th f.4
RAAF F-35’s shining bright. Nikon : D800 ISO 4000 1/50th f.4



RAAF F-35 explode onto the Australian scene. Nikon D800 ISO 4000 1/50th f.4
RAAF F-35 explode onto the Australian scene. Nikon D800 ISO 4000 1/50th f.4
Nikon D600 at 72mm focal length 1/13 sec at f/5 with ISO set at 2000.
RAAF Fast Jets. Nikon D600, 28-300mm Nikon Lens at 48mm at f/4.2, 1/13 Sec, and 2000 ISO exposure program Manual, handheld.

When the fireworks died down we met each other with a wry smile and a casual “How’d ya go??” … the response “… yeah OK I think.”

Mark takes up the story from here …

‘We had thought by now that this would be it for the night, but then after a short walk back to our car it was very clear no one was going anywhere for a while. One of the good things about getting to a show early is you get to park very close to the gates and as luck would have we made the choice to keep going and grabbed the tripods and get some more low light shots. This whole Friday at Avalon will be one I remember for many years, the show from start to finish and even after it ended was more than I expected. We hope these photos from just the Friday evening and night really showcase just how good it can be.- Mark Jessop

USAF F-22 asleep. Nikon D800, ISO 100, 4seconds at f.4
USAF F-22 asleep. Nikon D800, ISO 100, 4seconds at f.4
USAF B-1B waiting to come out and play. Nikon D800, ISO 100 , 1/8th at f.4
USAF B-1B waiting to come out and play. Nikon D800, ISO 100 , 1/8th at f.4


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Tribute to the ANZAC Spirit at TAVAS

At this time of the year Australian’s thoughts are commonly of the men and women who have served our country on the ground, in conflicts from Papua New Guinea, France and Africa. Images of trenches or muddied tropical tracks or desert warfare with tanks or horses. At Caboolture airfield over this past weekend there was a focus on the our serving personel that took to the skies in every conflict Australia has been involved in throughout the first three quaters of last century.

TAVAS’s Fokker Dr1 and the Bristol F.2b dog fight over the Caboolture airfield.


The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS) hosted the Great War Flying Display. TAVAS’s flying collection of WW1 era aircraft is the best in the country and this collection was complimented by aircraft used in every major conflict from WW1 through to Vietnam. The display weekend was an excellent segway into ANZAC day and was well supported by all of the museums and vintage aircraft maintainers based at Caboolture as well as plenty of local and visiting aircraft. 

T-34 Mentor, US Navy NSJ and CAC Wirraway formation.
De Havilland DH-82 Tiger Moth gracing the skies over Caboolture.



Fokker D.VIII with its rotary engine is always interesting to watch start and run. Running on castor oil and without a throttle its an interesting aircraft to listen to and watch fly.

The early morning light on the old type was delightful.


A view of the airshow from the air.
Fokker Dr.1 returns after another display


One of the faster displays of the day was by the Archerfield based P-51 “The Flying Undertaker” from Fighter Pilot Adventure Flights.


Gunner at the ready in the Bristol.
DHC-1 Chipmunks

An interesting contrast to all the canvas and wood of the early 20th century is the RAN’s new Seahawk Romeo MH-60R. It made a welcome appearance on both days of the show. 

RAN MH-60R Seahawk
Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk


Stinson Sentinal with Warwick Henry at the controls.

The last word belongs to the TAVAS collection … lest we forget.
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