Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

All posts by Mark Pourzenic

Within the cargo hold of a 747

During 2006, I was fortunate enough to have been employed as a driver for a transport company that dealt with many customers who relied upon air freight in and out of the country.
Almost daily I would sit in long queue’s awaiting my turn to make it to the clerks office at many of the freight forwarding companies that where situated at Melbourne Airport at the time, such as Menzies, Patrick’s, DHL and Australian Air Express to name but a few.
Being an avid aviation enthusiast this didn’t worry me at all as I was content with keeping an eye on the coming’s and going’s at the airport, and would at times bring my video camera along to catch anything special that was passing through.
Naturally word had got around at work that I was a keen aviation nut,and through some contacts at work, they had organised for myself, through Menzies Air Services, a guided tour through a Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747 Freighter.

Boeing 747-267F B-HVZ on finals. Image credit Richard Pourzenic

I was one happy man and couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. I was given prior permission to bring my video camera along and film the occasion. This meant going back to hand held as lugging a tripod around wasn’t going to happen inside the confined space of a 747 full of freight.
The day had arrived and was told to be at Menzies Air Services around 3pm for a quick run down on the do’s and dont’s about being airside, and once in and around the aircraft.
Sadly with the passing of time, I have forgotten the name of our gracious host whom you’ll see in the video, as he was very informative and very welcoming. Hopefully someone out there will be able to shed light on this matter.
As you’ll see in the video, there is a lot of planning that goes into how an aircraft is loaded, such as keeping its centre of gravity, and how it will react when taking off or landing, as well as whilst in flight. Another point of interest was how the pallets where loaded with freight, and the way they were stacked, and done in a way that it conformed to the shape of the 747.

Touchdown of B-HVZ at Melbourne Airport. Image credit Richard Pourzenic

Boeing 747-267F (SCD)
This particular 747, registered B-HVZ is one of four 747-267SF freighters that where operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo that featured the Side Cargo Door(SCD). HVZ started life as line number 687, and was given construction number (MSN)23864, and wore the test registration of N6005C for its first flight in September of 1987 before final delivery to Cathay Pacific Cargo and registered as VR-HVZ. After 22 years of long and loyal service,  B-HVZ was retired and last noted as stored/scrapped at the Southern California Logistics Airport near Victorville (VCV).

Boeing 747-2F VR-HVZ. Image credit Wilkes Aviation Collection

Cathay Pacific Cargo
The Cargo subsidiary was established in 1981 operating twice weekly on the Hong Kong – Frankfurt – London route that was jointly operated in partnership with Lufthansa.
Between its passenger and cargo routes, Cathay Pacific serves more than 80 destinations.

With special thanks to Melbourne Airport and staff from Menzies Air Services and Cathay Pacific Cargo for their time and opportunity.
Aviation Spotters Online would also like to thank Photographers Richard Pourzenic and Brian Wilkes for the use of their images in this article.

Read More »

Walkaround F-111C A8-113


Being one to frequent airshows, I usually find myself constantly filming and ending up with hours, upon hours of vision from each Airshow that I attend.
During the Australian International Airshow, which is held every two years at Avalon Airport in Victoria, I tend to spend up to 9 days there, and as you can imagine, record a lot of footage.
At times filming movements is fine, but I feel there’s always something missing when watching back my footage.
Now it’s not always easy, and at times you need to go through the proper channels, and require permission to do so, but getting a one on one interview with aircrew, or in this case groundcrew of any aircraft or squadron, is a privilege.
Having the opportunity to film crew talking about their aircraft and roles, marries the footage, and gives an insight into what it’s really like being in the Royal Australian Air Force.
Back in 2005, we were very fortunate to have Amberley based 6 Squadron at the Australian International Airshow, with their F-111C/G strike aircraft, on static display and performing in the air.
Since the advent of social media, it seems everyone is connecting from all parts of the world, and with myself belonging to a few aviation groups on Facebook, I was lucky enough, after all this time, to be able to get in touch with CPL Phil, who is the star of this clip. He has given his approval for us to be able to share it with you.
Corporal Phil, a ground crew member and ‘gunnie’ of 6 Squadron, was only too happy to say a few words and show me around F-111C, A8-113 which was on static display during the course of the show.

A8-113 proudly on display
A8-113 proudly on display at Darwin Aviation Museum

A8-113 A Brief History

F-111C, A8-113 started life as F-111A, 67-0113. After its first flight in August of 1969, it was transferred to the 430thTFS/474thTFW at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
After some modifications, 67-0113 left the 474th for combat operations in Vietnam, and by November 1972, has notched up 44 combat missions.
April 19 1973 saw 113 fly her last mission.
Roll forward to May 23 1982, and 67-0113 was delivered to the RAAF as one of four attrition aircraft, and later modified to F-111C standard by 3AD Amberley, QLD.
During 1997, 25 years after 113 saw combat over the skies of Vietnam as an United States Air Force aircraft, 113 completed test flying as an RAAF AUP(digital) F-111C.
Her last public appearance was at the Williamtown AFB Airshow held in September 2010, where large crowds came to witness the magic of the F-111 in flight before the types eventual retirement in December 2010.
A8-113 now resides as a static display at Darwin’s Aviation Museum and has been repainted in her original SEA camouflage scheme.

A8-113 fuel dump valve
Fuel Dump Valve

Australian Aviation Heritage Centre
557 Stuart Hwy, Winnellie NT 0820
(08) 8947 2145

Read More »

2018 Rolex Formula 1 Grand Prix F/A-18A Hornet Display.

Sunday the 25th day of March 2018, presented itself with many opportunities.. one of those was  catching an UBER ride into the heartland of inner city Melbourne, and elevating to the ninth floor balcony of an apartment block which was allowed through word of a good friend of mine who threw a whisper in the wind about said location, and with his gracious intent,  speaking  on my behalf, and through negotiation, allowed my access .

With the blessing of it’s gracious owner of said apartment, welcoming myself, and camera equipment into his home, and ultimately my platform overlooking the Albert Park Lake Formula One Grand Prix Circuit, I was overwhelmed with the view I was given.  Before long the RAAF  Roulettes crack aerobatic team had vacated show center leaving the airspace over Albert Park open to the numerous Helicopter’s employed by various news agencies to start hovering and circling the track once again.

So without further interruption, may I announce, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet, belonging to Number  2 Operational Conversion Unit, located at Williamtown Air Force Base.


Read More »

HMAS Cerberus Open Day 2016

Sunday  the 23rd of October 2016, saw myself leaving my flat in Ascot Vale in the early hours of the morning for the long drive across town towards Western Port Bay, around an hour and a half drive or so heading in a south easterly direction.   Heading across town can be difficult on a good day, but being the weekend it wasn’t as heavy as usual so my timing was pretty spot on, or so I thought!

I was headed to HMAS Cerberus, a Royal Australian Navy Base that serves as the primary training establishment for RAN personnel, which is located adjacent to Crib Point on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. With approximately 6000 personnel trained annually, which roughly equates to an average of 600 trainees at any one time, this makes for one busy base.  HMAS Cerberus from the outside looking in looks big, and for good reason as the base itself  covers 1517 hectares and is 70 kilometers from Melbourne on Hann’s Inlet, Western Port Bay.   The base was originally purchased in 1911 and called Flinders Naval Depot, and  was  officially commissioned in 1921.

I’d only heard about the Open Day a few day’s earlier from a post on a facebook page, so was keen to head down after having a glance at the program of events that where planned for the day, and to visit this establishment that I’ve always had an interest in, but never had the chance until now.   As expected I did take the wrong turn and ended up on the wrong side of the base trying to gain entry, with the local recruits advising myself and many other’s on which road to travel down to enter the grounds.  This all seemed fine until every road that led to HMAS Cerberus became one, and that’s were the long queue to get in started.   Half an hour or so later the long line of vehicles started to slowly move and before long, I had been marshalled to my car park and the adventure began.

 One thing I will mention is how picturesque  HMAS Cerberus is, with it’s heritage listed buildings and vast landscapes, it truly is a beautiful part of Victoria and it’s coastline, and well worth the visit if you have the opportunity to do so.  HMAS Cerberus main business is specifically Naval based training, which  includes School of Survivability and Ship Safety, that specialises in firefighting, damage control and nuclear biological chemical defence, seamanship and weapons training also the home of the Recruit School which, for all sailors, their first contact with life in the Navy.

I won’t lie to you and say I was only there to witness the going’s on of young recruits, and question them on  their decision to enter the military..no, I was there for the airshow and military hardware on display.  Yes, whenever these Open day’s are held, one must make the effort, if possible, to go and be entertained by the Men and Women of the Australian Defence Force that provide our protection, and in turn learn and take in, what it is they actually do, which is very humbling, and very cool having the opportunity to do so as a member of the Australian public.

HMAS Cerberus has for the past decade or so become a tri-service training establishment that caters for the Army and Air Force also.  With a wide range of training on hand, recruits can find themselves  upon graduation from recruit school promoted to Seaman Star and undertake training at their respective category school.

Recruits will, with their respective future careers find themselves being schooled at the many faculty’s on base, such as the School of Ships Safety and Survivability, Engineering Faculty, Defence Force School of Signals, Supply and Health Faculty, and the School of Music.  One thing I did notice whilst walking around this vast Naval Base was how clean and well presented it was, and although it was the weekend, the members of the RAN and ADF alike, where more than happy to have the public inspect their premises, which made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

Making a bee line for the parade ground upon seeing the Sikorksy S70B-2 Seahawk, and MRH-90 Taipan Helicopters on static display, I was very excited and proceeded to get my video camera out and start filming.  Although there were hundreds of people about, it was very relaxed, and crews from both squadron’s where on hand to answer any questions about their Helicopters.  Before long, the soothing sound of a radial engine was in the air with the presence of Judy Pay’s T-28 Trojan putting on a display for the gathered crowd.  

After having a stroll around the base that was accessible to the public, and viewing some of the many ground displays it was great to see so many people had taken the time to visit the base, with many gathering around the local community groups stands that where selling food and refreshments, and was pleasantly surprised to see an open bar which I stopped at quickly to replace lost fluids. 

Things where getting busy around the Sikorsky S70B-2 Seahawk from 816 Squadron, with the ground crew from HMAS Albatross giving the aircraft a pre- flight inspection prior to it’s fast roping display, which I didn’t capture properly due to my location, although managed to be in the right spot for its wet winching demonstration which you’ll see in the video below.  

The NHIndustries MRH-90 Taipan from 808 Squadron also flew, and was open for inspection for the many curious onlookers that had made their way to view this newest addition to the fleet during the course of the day.

Amongst the many attractions that where taking place during the day, the Federation Guard made up of RAAF, RAN and Army personnel put on a fantastic display of precision marching that drew large crowds when they performed.  As HMAS Cerberus is situated close to Phillip Island, it was a great thrill to have an RAAF F/A-18 Hornet perform a flypast on its way to the MotoGP that was being held over the same weekend. 

In summary I would highly recommend visiting HMAS Cerberus if the chance presents itself, as there is much to see and do. The following video is a compilation of the many highlights during the open day.


Read More »

2017 Rolex Formula 1 Grand Prix Albert Park

Sunday March 26 witnessed the running of the ROLEX Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix which was held at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
For many this is an enthusiast’s dream, whether it be on the track, or in the sky, there is plenty of variety to satisfy all over the three day event.
The Royal Australian Air Force as always provides the aerial entertainment for the masses, and the 2017 event didn’t disappoint, with proceeding’s starting with the RAAF’s crack Aerobatic team “The Roulettes”, flying their Swiss made Pilatus P-C9A aircraft, dazzling the crowd with their formation aerobatics, showing skill and precision.
Next up was a first for the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit and crowds alike, with the RAAF’s Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet from 1 Squadron, making it’s debut this weekend as the fast jet component to this years display, as previous years had the F/A-18A ‘classic’ Hornet doing the honor’s, so it was very exciting to have the Super Hornet demonstrating it’s ability over the Melbourne skyline, and it didn’t disappoint with many impressed with it’s handling display.
The final flypast before the big race on Sunday was from 36 Squadron who fly the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, which again wowed the crowd with it’s low flypast and nimble handling characteristic’s, very impressive for such a large aircraft.

Read More »

Mass Launch Airside Exercise Pitch Black 2016

Morning Launch of the first wave
Exercise Pitch Black 2016
Date- Thursday, August 11 2016
Where- RAAF Base Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Location- Airside,  Flight Operations.
Storyteller- Mark Pourzenic

Having the opportunity as a videographer and part of the team which is, Aviation Spotters Online, there are certain instances when something as big as Exercise Pitch Black, which is held every two years in Australia’s Northern Territory, that as a keen plane spotter and military aviation enthusiast you make an effort to attend and to experience essentially what is, the greatest collection of military aircraft in any one place and time, in the country.
Aviation Spotters Online were very fortunate to be granted access as part of the Air Force’s media embedded team, which under controlled supervision, was given the chance to witness certain activities and operations during ExPB16.

Mark Pourzenic capturing the action airside.
Mark Pourzenic capturing the action airside.

One memory that will stick in my mind was the opportunity for a ringside seat along RAAF Base Darwin’s main runway, to be present for the day’s launch of the first wave of aircraft participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2016.
Now being a video guy, my line will always be different to those of you that take stills, and as you’ll see from the clip that accompanies this story, it isn’t as easy as it looks.
Every airfield comes with its own set of challenge’s, from accessibility, direction of the sun, fences and so forth.
Having the privilege provided to us by the Royal Australian Air Force, with our media contingent bused down to a prime spot along the runway, the sun on our backs, and given ten minutes to set up before the first aircraft where taxiing out for departure, the only thought going through my mind at this stage, was where can I set up my camera to maximize my position, and to keep a flow so that my scenes or clips will work once I start my editing process.
Another factor that we face as videographers/photographers is we all must endure each other.   Whether it be our lenses or cameras that get in the way, to the person that always takes one or two steps too many, to be the one that grabs that elusive shot, and by doing so, may ruin it for others, but at the end of the day, you must be prepared, and need to overcome this scenario.
So one thing I’ve learnt over the years is that you need to film and edit at the same time. Sounds strange doesn’t it? Well yes, and there’s a reason.  So going back to location, and seeing as we’re along Darwin’s main runway the thing that must be remembered is how much of each take off do you want to see, and more importantly, how others will view your work, and will they become bored.

RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-49 77SQN launching into action.
RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-49 77SQN launching into action.

Another important factor when setting up for a mass launch, or any shot for that matter, is to use a tripod.  Now the reason a tripod is so critical is it allows you to set up your shot, from the top of the runway, through to your pan shot, and your exit, all the while working at keeping a fluid motion, which allows each scene to become seamless once in the editing stage.

USAF F-16CM "Wild Weasel" 14th Fighter Squadron
USAF F-16CM “Wild Weasel” 14th Fighter Squadron

Once you’ve got yourself set up and you’re happy with your camera’s settings, the next thing to do is wait for the aircraft to start rolling, and being witness to the Thursday morning’s mass launch, was one of sheer happiness and excitement, being only metres away from F-15’s, F-16’s, Super Hornets and so forth.  One can easily get carried away paying too much attention to the aircraft they’re filming on the exit, as before you know it, the second aircraft that is part of the mass launch is already wheels up before you’ve swung your camera back around to catch it.

RSAF F-15SG "The Fighting Shirkas" 149th Squadron.
RSAF F-15SG “The Fighting Shirkas” 149th Squadron.

What I prefer to do is once the first jet has launched, count to three, then turn the camera back around to the next departing aircraft and so forth, until the last of the bunch has rotated before filming that little bit longer on the last departure to capture the sequence.  When there’s over twenty or more aircraft taking off in such rapid succession , one can easily be overwhelmed, and get locked into the one setting, or stay too ‘zoomed in’ so to speak.   It’s always good to pan back and always show some perspective as to where you’re filming from, because at the end of the day, other people will watch your work and probably want to see it also.

RTAF F-16B (MLU) 403 Squadron.
RTAF F-16B (MLU) 403 Squadron.

At times filming can go wrong, and more often than not it does, but one thing to always remember is to have fun doing it, that’s the reason why we’re all out there in the first place, is keeping our passions alive and a smile whilst doing it.

RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet A44-212 1Squadron
RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet A44-212 1Squadron

Although at the time it was hot and there wasn’t any shade and with sweat running down my face, being witness to the mass launch that close to the runway is a memory that will stay with me for a very long time.  Hopefully what you’ve read here shows in my footage and you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed filming!

Again I’d like to thank the RAAF media team for providing this amazing opportunity.


Mark Pourzenic

Read More »

Exercise Pitch Black 2016 TRAILER

Aviation Spotters Online was privileged to be part of the embedded media team during PB16. Although our visit was brief, we aimed high to capture moments from Exercise Pitch Black to give you an insight into the intensity, and fast pace of this multi-national war game that takes place every two years, in Australia’s Top End, the Northern Territory.


Read More »

RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet Avalon Airshow 2015

During the 2015 Australian International Airshow, held at Avalon Airport near Geelong Victoria, many RAAF asset’s where on display on the ground and in the air, and none impressed the punter’s more than the RAAF 6 Squadron F/A-18F Super Hornet’s, with their spectacular take-off sequence’s and ground attack demonstrations and high speed fly-by’s.
This short clip only show’s some of the excitement felt by all at the Australian International Airshow.

Read More »

Australian International Airshow, Avalon 2015 .Trade Day Number 2

The 2nd Trade Day at the Australian International Airshow held at Avalon Airport, Geelong , Victoria from February 24-March 1 2015.
This clip has a taste of morning arrivals and visiting aircraft that build’s by the day in anticipation for the main Air Show which happens on the Friday afternoon, and over the course of the weekend.
A once only pairs display by the Australian Army’s ARH Tiger attack helicopters and the mighty P-3C Orion show’s of it’s handling techniques.

Read More »

Past and Present Avalon 2015

The Friday afternoon at the Australian International Airshow had most if not all aviation enthusiast’s excited as many rare and unique formations of former and current RAAF fighter aircraft took the skies for formation fly over’s and handling display’s.
Here you’ll see the RAAF’s frontline F/A-18A Hornet in company with Temora Aviation Museum Meteor F8 and the RAAF Museum Sabre, not to be outdone a CAC Mustang , along with a P-40 Kittyhawk,CAC Boomerang and Spitfire Mk.VIII all sharing the same airspace over Avalon for all to enjoy.

Read More »