Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

Avalon International Airshow 2017

Martin Porcelli’s view of the show.

Attending Avalon 2017 was something I wasn’t quite expecting, but when the opportunity presented itself, I knew this year was going to be quite exciting. The last time I attended  Avalon Airshow was back in 2009, some 8 years ago.

I attended all trade days plus two public days with my weapon of choice being the Canon 5DMkIII and 1DMkIV with 100-400mm L IS and 24-105mm L IS.

The trade days
The first trade day was an opportunity to see the aircraft both static and flying but also an opportunity to get an idea of the routines and lighting generally.

It was great to see the AH-64 Apache fly, however this was a trade day only feature. Throughout the trade days it flew a number of times daily with sorties out over Geelong way and surrounds. This was my first time I had seen an Apache, so naturally quite exciting.

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AH-64 providing demo flights for ADF Personnel

The RAAF F/A-18 F Super Hornet flew every day of the trade days to, which meant an opportunity to get different shots or refine the shot one was after. However the highlight of the day was the arrival of the EA-18 Growlers into Avalon. Airshows always give us buzz here at ASO, but when capturing history it makes it even more memorable. As was the case here, to see the first of this aircraft type arrival into Avalon.

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A RAAF Superhornet departs as part of its display during the trade days.


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Two Growlers fly in formation during the trade days.


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Other RAAF arrivals included a lone F-18 classic hornet and a P-8 Posiden, which performed a flypast prior to landing. Two USAF F-16s supported by the USAF KC-135 also arrived.

The F-22 Raptor also flew, however its routine was cut short due to a technical issue.

I toured the pavilion tents on the second trade day, to explore the expo side of the event. The highlight here was the matt black NSA(North Star Aviation) MRH 407 light attack helicopter. Looking more like something out of James Bond, it was hard not to be impressed by this. Arriving via a B747 this aircraft was in the pavilion tent and presents another option for a multi role light attack helicopter. The air-frame is a Bell 407 and with modifications by North Star Aviation enables the airfare to accommodate missiles, min-guns, rockets, an integrated weapons management system plus other modifications as required by military use. I am a fixed wing fan, but gee was this something. If only it flew, that would have been an added bonus.



Martin –Baker were also present with a number of ejector seats available to sit in, obviously non-operational though! Seeing this, I had the opportunity to sit in the F-35 seat, and for an ejector seat not designed for comfort, this was surprisingly comfy.

The opportunity to photograph the Apache from a different angles too, was great. However the highlight for me was the four ship F-18 classic routine. It’s been some years since I saw a four ship and secondly, it was another opportunity to photograph these jets before they eventually go into the history books. The four jets comprised of two single seat F-18s and two dual seat ‘tub’ hornets.

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Trade day three started with fog! Well two mornings with blue sky was pretty good, so with these conditions meant a delay for arriving aircraft. This made the morning more comfortable and The advantage  is the light is more uniform,  fog can also create mood, especially aiding when photographing fighter jets.

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A rare sight at the airshow, to see a Growler depart.


As the Growlers were static only, the chance to capture one moving was very fortunate. As was the case, when one departed at approximately 10 am that morning. Shortly followed by the JASDF KC-767. However once the fog cleared, more arrivals occurred as did the practice routines of most aircraft.


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The worlds deadliest jet becoming airborne for one of its displays.


Trade Day Four and Public Days
Arguably the most exciting day, as this was the day to get a first hand look at Australia’s newest Fighter, the F-35.

The morning began with the arrival of the RAAF Roulettes, followed by the departure of a RAAF F-18 classic and RAAF Hawk. The F-35 arrived approximately 11:30 am after a photo shoot with the hornet and hawk that departed. The F-35 arrival consisted of a missed approach and landing, for both aircraft A35-001 and 002. With more than double the thrust of the F-18 classic, it was noticeable, decibel wise. I think the F-35 is an aircraft that will grow on people as time goes on, me included.

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An F-18B ‘tub’ pulls into the vertical.


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The main attraction for the Friday show at Avalon is the night show. This provides a unique opportunity to capture the aircraft in golden hour, and well, we weren’t disappointed.

It was a pleasant sunset, but probably my favorite shot that night would have to be the F-18 hornet at the entrance to the show. I like it as the sunset reminds me of the Northern Territory, a place I use to reside and the aircraft is from 75sqn Katherine. They both go hand in hand in my opinion. So no firework shots for me, but a shot that symbolises the closing of Avalon 2017 and the slowly fading out of Australia’s most formidable fighter of the last 32 years.

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Australia newest fight makes an appearance for the airshow.

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Martin Porcelli


Mark Jessop’s view of the show.

To be back again at the Australian International Air Show is something that is always special,this year’s show was shaping up to be the best. For me, I had never seen a F-22 display, B-1B, EA-18G, P-8, AH-64E Apache in the flesh and what was maybe the one aircraft every spotter wanted to see was the brand new F-35 lightning. The gear I used at the Airshow mainly at the show was the awesome setup of the Nikon D4s and the mighty Nikkor 600mm f/4, my spare body was the trusty Nikon D800 with a Nikkor 24-120mm f/4.5

Getting straight into the action on the Tuesday “Trade Day” I was damn keen to see for my first time the F-22 Raptor Demo Team in action, but to get the show underway the RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet put on a display that was up there with the best seen anywhere.

RAAF F/A-18 F Super Hornet punching flares.
RAAF F/A-18 F Super Hornet punching flares.


RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet going up.
RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet going up.


RAAF P-8 Poseidon arriving into Avalon.
RAAF P-8 Poseidon arriving into Avalon.

Over the following day’s Avalon put on an Airshow that again proves you have to make it at the highest on your list to attend. What were the highlights for me? Well, like everyone there were just so many and as the team was covering every angle I wanted to take in all the action and pace myself for what would end up being a massive week.

The Royal Australian Army Tiger Attack Helicopter.
The Royal Australian Army Tiger Attack Helicopter.




Sky Aces inverted ,level and barrel rolling around each other.
Sky Aces inverted, level and barrel rolling around each other.
Skip Stewart all smoked up.
Skip Stewart all smoked up.

After the RAAF F/A18F Super Hornet there were three other major displays. The F-16 PACAF demo team was again in Australia to showcase the power and agility of the Fighting Falcon. Throughout the Airshow the public was lucky to have the right conditions for condensation or “Ecto” to form on the jets. I think the photo’s speak for themselves.

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon in it's "Ecto" bubble.
USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon in it’s “Ecto” bubble.


USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon ripping into a tight turn.
USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon ripping into a tight turn.


USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon pulling up.
USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon pulling up.

Next up is the RAAF F/A-18 Hornet 4 ship “Roaring Tigers” display team. The 2017 show would be the last time the public got to see the 4 ship team in action at Avalon and it was also the first time the public got to see A21-16 and the 75th Anniversary tail scheme for 2OCU.

The "Roaring Tigers" start the display with the stack entry.
The “Roaring Tigers” start the display with the stack entry.


RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-16 2OCU.
RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-16 2OCU.


RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-16 2OCU.
RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-16 2OCU.

On the Saturday I wanted to get a different view as well as a sort of a rest day after the massive Friday. Leigh and myself headed to the highest spot on the You Yangs called “Flinders Peak” which is 10km from the show and thought we would see what we get. We did see a lot, but not up close apart from one good pass by the “Roaring Tigers”.

RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-16 turning right on "Flinders Peak"

Like every “spotter” out there I have seen my fair share of F-22 Raptor display video’s and it was time to see in the flesh what all the fuss was about. The first day didn’t start out to good  for the team as something happened only 4 minutes into the flight and the display was cancelled, but the rest of the week showcased just what an impressive aircraft the F-22 is. While every display had been just awesome the Friday display is one that will be talked about for many years as the conditions were right for a lot of condensation or “ecto” to form around the aircraft. Again, it’s easier to let the photo’s do the talking.

USAF F-22 launching into it's display.
USAF F-22 launching into its display.
USAF F-22 pulling up.
USAF F-22 pulling up.


USAF F-22 turning into the rainbow.
USAF F-22 turning into the rainbow.


USAF F-22 into the rainbow again.
USAF F-22 into the rainbow again.


USAF F-22 with "ecto" & "Jelly"
USAF F-22 with “ecto” & “Jelly”


USAF F-22 and that "moment"
USAF F-22 and that “moment”

It’s pretty hard to beat the Friday day time show and myself and Leigh thought it would be wise to leave before the crowd, but on the way out the sunset light quickly made us change our minds and what a decision that would end being. The be around the RAAF’s newest fighter as the fireworks started and capture what we did is something I will remember for a long time. The old saying” always be ready for anything” was right!

RAAF F-35's exploding on the Australian Scene.
RAAF F-35’s exploding on the Australian Scene.

Thank to every person who made the show a success and to the ASO team, great work covering every angle like no one else can -Mark.

Dave Soderstrom’s view of the show.

I use Canon equipment for my work, my primary gear being the Canon 7D MkI with 100-400mm L IS II and 24-105mm L IS. Both give me the coverage I need for this event. I also run Scandisk CF cards which process extremely quickly.

What a show this year, in my opinion, it was a one of the best for its variety and displays. Antonov AN-124, Singaporean Air Force in force with KC-135, F-15s and C-130s, USAF F-22 display, RAF A-400M, JASDF KC767 and our own RAAF in force made it a fantastic event to cover. To be able to chat with the various crews, about their aircraft, their roles, their history is something that you really appreciate them giving you time for. For me, I was able to tick off a bucket list item and be on the flight deck of the AN-124 and spending time with the crews was truly a special time.

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USAF KC-135 launches from Avalon
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Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130H one of two which came to Avalon
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Some of the Internationals on display
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Royal Air Force A400M
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Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130J
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Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757
RNZAF C-130H ASO (1 of 1)
Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H
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ASO 35 (1 of 1)
USAF B-1B arrives
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The French Air Force again brought their CN-235 Maritime Patrol aircraft to display.
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The mighty AN-124 is big which ever way you look at it.

The Australian Defence Force put forward one of the largest ensembles of aircraft and helicopters ever seen at an Australian Air Show with nearly every type in service on display including the newest hardware. The F-18G Growlers arrived along with the new P-8 Poseidon, PC-21 and of course the F-35As.

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RAAF C-27J Spartan was a first time display at Avalon
A46-305 RAAF E-18G Growler ASO (1 of 1)
Two Growlers arrived bringing the RAAF into the Electronic Jamming club.
A47-001 RAAF P-8 Posiden ASO (1 of 1)
The RAAF’s new maritime surveillance aircraft the P-8 Poseidon was a welcome display.
A54-002 RAAF PC-21 ASO (1 of 1)
Two of the RAAF’s new PC-21 Training aircraft were proudly on display.
A35-001 RAAF F-35A ASO 4 (1 of 1)
And the F-35 Lightning II made its debut to the Australian public in spectacular style!
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Not to be forgotten the Royal Australian Navy also displayed its new MH-60R Romeo model Seahawk.

Peter Lawrence’s view of the show.

Once again the Australian International Air Show delivered an outstanding range of aircraft, both local & international, and from civilian & military operators.


Avalon has always been a highlight on any photographers calendar as it offers such a wide range of subject. Yes, the lighting can sometimes be the biggest challenge but it is just that, a challenge to be meet head on!


Avalon is one of the biggest shows in the southern hemisphere and because of that fact it appeals to businesses to come and attend the trade days to show off their products and maybe even snag a sale or two.


The public days give the average Joe a chance to come and witness the skilled pilots put there incredible flying machines through their paces, from graceful gliders, heart-stopping aerobatics to powerful military machines.


With the weather playing it’s part, overall I think the show was a resounding success, and I look forward to what the Airshow Down Under team can pull together for 2019!



Mark  Pourzenic’s view of the show.

Having  the Australian International Airshow take place at Avalon Airfield near Geelong, and only a short 45 minute drive from home, this airshow mean’s a lot to me as I’ve attended every show since it’s inception in 1992.

As ASO’s videographer, I feel obliged  as always at every airshow that I attend, and that is, to try and capture every movement, which at times leaves me with a dilemma.  How to condense all the hours of vision I have into something that many will enjoy,  so my apologies from the start if I’ve included a few more moments here and there, which hopefully you’ll all enjoy.

For this years show I’ve updated my equipment once again, with another product from Canon video, featuring the  XF305  model, which is the bigger brother of my last Canon video system, the XHA1S.  I must say that the subtle changes in technology, such as the wider angle lens, the use of CF card over tape, and overall ease of use have helped with capturing this years event without too much hassle.

For me Avalon usually starts on the Saturday during arrivals weekend.  Since the late 1990’s myself, along with close friends and like minded spotters have made a big deal of converging  at the end of Avalon’s main runway, and patiently spent a lovely summers day awaiting the military and civil arrivals before the official start to the show, and more often than not included  a practice display or two by many of the visiting types of aircraft.  As with every Avalon, I feel the main highlight is the opportunity to catch up with fellow spotters and friends made over the years, and just being part of the airshow itself.


So for the main part, this years show (2017) was bathed in blue sky’s for  most of the week, which made it difficult at times to try and capture the sense of speed and movement, and often more than not brought out a few flaws with my filming, which at times can’t be helped.  So enough rambling, and let’s get the show started with a clip detailing the arrivals.

With most of the main arrivals taken care of, it was time to open the show, with the first of the trade days beginning on the Tuesday.  For most the trade days are industry only, and the lucky few that are fortunate enough to attend, it’s quite the experience being able to get close and personal with many of the aircraft on display, on the ground and in the air.

With the Trade Days it’s more often than not that one is treated to special one off arrivals and display’s, and this years show had it all.  With the RAAF having 4 new types on show – EA-18G Growler, P-8A Poseidon, PC-21 and C-27J Spartan, it was a privilege and thrill to witness these historic moment’s and the opportunity to capture them.


With the second trade day upon us, and the weather heating up, it was a great opportunity to capture the static park with the aircraft basking under the brilliant Melbourne summer sun.

Walking the static line, there’s always something going on, either in the air, or on the ground.  Most, if not all aircraft on display are open for inspection, so naturally one must take advantage.

The ATLAS A400M always impresses.

With trade day 3 in full swing, and the summer heat rising, so was the caliber of the display’s.  For the most part, Avalon can be tricky to photograph and film at, due to the orientation of the runway and display line, meaning after 1pm you’re basically shooting into the sun.  Although after a few shows and experience you can overcome these hurdles and aim for certain spots along the runway to get the shot that you need, and the best advice is that if all else fails, it’s always good to sit back and just enjoy the show, which is, after all, the reason why one is there in the first place.

Another memorable and welcome return visitor is the USAF Rockwell B-1B Lancer.

The Antonov AN-124 Ruslan has made a welcome return since arriving for the inaugural 1992 show.

Friday heralded one of the major milestone’s for any Airshow to be held in Australia for many a year, with the arrival of the RAAF’s 5th Generation fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.   With project costs and delays hindering its true worth, this aircraft attracts attention worldwide, and as an aviation spotter and enthusiast, I count this as a major moment in my life to be able to witness such an event.

Friday also witnessed the arrival of the public onto the airfield, as the trade part of the 2017 Australian International Airshow had concluded early in the morning.  Now it was time for the real show to begin, and for the props and afterburners to start singing their special tunes above the Avalon sky.

and not to forget the tireless work performed by the aerial firebombers during the Victorian fire season.

After the success of the Friday day/night show, and all media outlets advertising the show, and in particular the F-35, with perfect weather, Saturday was an explosion of people who flocked to Avalon in their masses, and what a show it was.   So sit back and let the show begin.

Skillful formation flying

The F-35A  Joint Strike Fighter

The Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor

and the Finale to Saturday’s airshow, the RAAF’s aerobatic team, The Roulettes.

After the show on Saturday, and having been on my feet all week at the show, I had a bit of a late start on the Sunday, with long delays on the Princess freeway due to all the traffic heading into Avalon, it was nice to casually walk about the field and find a different spot to capture some aspects such as taxiing and movements that most people don’t get to see.  It’s always good to catch ground crew and aircraft moving along taxi ways to not only appreciate their size, but also to view the pilots and crew who fly these metal birds for all of us to marvel at and enjoy.

Sunday part 2 might seem a touch long, but trust me, it’s worth every minute.

And what begins must have an end.

So with the arrivals, trade days and airshow covered, there was only one thing left.   Yes you guessed it, the departures!

It’s always demanding spending 10 or so days travelling to and from Avalon, some say I’m crazy, and maybe I am, but for the love of aviation, and the memories,  friendships that are, and have formed at this very airshow, it will forever be something special to me, and for many of you out there, whether you’ve been to one show or many, or never been at all, hopefully we here at Aviation  Spotters Online  have  given you a taste of what the Australian International Airshow is all about.

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