Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online


Top End “Dog Fighting”- F-16’s and F-18’s team up at Exercise Elang AUSINDO 17

This week ASO was part of a small media group given access to RAAF Base Darwin in the Northern Territory to speak with Wing Commander Michael Grant, Commanding Officer of No 75 Squadron, about Exercise Elang AUSINDO 17. Visits to an OLA to view aircraft plus excursions to adjacent Runway 29 to watch jet departures and arrivals was also on offer.

Exercise Elang AUSINDO 17 is a bi-lateral exercise between the Indonesian Air Force, the TNI-AU, and the Royal Australian Air Force which is being held from 16 – 27 October based out of RAAF Base Darwin. The TNI-AU have brought F-16C Block 25 Falcons from 3rd Skadron Udara, Iswahjudi AB, East Java, while the RAAF has temporarily relocated some 75 Squadron F/A-18A Hornets from nearby RAAF Base Tindal. The exercise aims to increase interoperability between the two nations by developing skills in various Air Combat Manoeuvring (ACM) or ‘Dogfighting’ scenarios within designated training areas both off the coast, and over land in the N.T.

TNI-AU C-130H Hercules from 31 Skadron Udara delivering personnel and equipment for the deployment.
Arrival of F-16C from Indonesia.

Aircraft from the Indonesian Air Force began arriving early in the week with C-130H Hercules delivering personnel and equipment followed by the detachment F-16’s soon after.

TNI-AU F-16C flightline
F-16C’s from 3 Skadron Udara, TNI-AU on the flightline at RAAF Base Darwin.

Thursday at 9 a.m I joined the RAAF Public Relations Team at the front gate of RAAF Base Darwin and proceeded to the Military Hard Stand to meet Wing Commander Michael Grant, Commanding Officer of No 75 Squadron. WGCDR Grant is no stranger to meeting the local media and with a backdrop of TNI-AU F-16’s to set the mood, and us with our cameras at the ready, he welcomed us and began describing the purpose of Exercise Elang AUSINDO 17.

CO 75Sqn
Commanding Officer of the  75 Squadron welcomes media.

“We have brought 8 F/A-18’s up with us here to exercise with the Indonesian Air Force who have brought seven F-16’s to this exercise. The aim of the exercise is really two fold. The first is for international engagement between Australia and Indonesia. That is at the personnel and organisational level, developing those relationships as best we can to ensure that should we ever need to operate together in due course, that the fundamental links are in place if and when that time arrives.
The other side which the public is more aware of, is the flying side, and we will see plenty of that. We are operating together, integrating together in co-ordinated missions to not only learn about each others capabilities, but also share some tactics to make us a stronger package when we do operate together”

Hornet A21-44 from 75 Sqn arriving RAAF Darwin

“The exercise consist of a building block approach which which is pretty standard for joint exercises. It will start with basic fighter manoeuvring which we’re doing this week – which will typically be one on one ‘dogfighting’ if you like, where one F-18 will fight against one F-16. We will increase that to one F-18 against two -16’s or one F-16 against two F-18’s to really challenge our aircrew this week.”

CO 75 Sqn
WGCDR Grant explains what Exercise Elang AUSINDO 17 is all about.

WGCDR Grant goes on to say most of the flying is performed over water 50 km or so northwest of Darwin as the RAAF is very conscious of trying to minimise the noise footprint in the Top End.

“Being based in Katherine, I am very much a Territorian having spent 8 years up here and I am very invested in the communities of both Katherine and Darwin. I know that jet noise can be an issue – I would just like to assure the public that we do everything possible to limit our noise footprint – in particular when we recover to the airfield, we use low power settings where ever we can.”
“That being said, if you really want to see an aircraft at its best, I recommend you come out to Hidden Valley for the V8 Supercars” – he says with a grin.

RAAF F/A-18A Hornet from 75 Sqn departing Darwin.

This week has generally followed a two wave morning and afternoon launch pattern – the first wave departing about 10-10:30 AM for about 60-90 minutes where the packages carry out 3 or more 1 v.s 1 or 1 v.s 2 ’dogfights’ before returning to base to replenish and then the second wave at about 2-2:30 PM.

TNI-AU F-16C from 3 SkU waiting for aircrew prior to a training mission.

“Next week we will start integrating more co-ordinated missions – instead of 1 V 1 or 1 V 2 we will work up to 4 V X – where 4 aircraft (the good guys) are fighting an unknown number in a simulated threat. It’s not the case where it’s Australia v.s Indonesia or Indonesia v.s Australia in this exercise – next week we will get to send packages of four aircraft – two F-16’s packaged right next to two F-18’s. The idea is that we can take the strengths of the F-16 and the F-18 and package those together so that we can literally dominate the airspace and the threat that we’re operating in out there next week”

He continues on by saying that even though he hasn’t flown with the Indonesians for some time now, they have however been to Darwin quite recently – last year during Exercise Pitch Black 2016. Previously to that in 2015 Australian Hornets travelled to Indonesia to operate with them. Within the last 5 – 10 years there has certainly been an increased focus on co-ordination and inter-operability between other nations in S.E Asia. “75 Sqn has recently returned from 5 weeks deployment to Thailand and Singapore, maximising and learning about different aircraft types and their capabilities, which makes us a more knowledgeable and powerful Air Force, and ultimately acts as a wonderful deterrent here in Australia”.

F-16 Pitch Black 2016
Indonesian Air Force F-16 out of RAAF Darwin during Pitch Black 2016

Because the younger Australian pilots have been very keen to fight against dissimilar aircraft, he has let them have a go early this week, and so WGCDR Grant only had his first exercise mission yesterday, against two F-16’s. He has been very impressed with their professional briefs, great tactical execution in the airspace, and the de-briefs by the TNI-AU. Thus far the exercise has been going exceptionally well and exceeding all his expectations and he has been very impressed with the professionalism and execution of tactics so far this week.

With reference to speed – “Out in the airspace there are no speed or tactical restrictions placed on us so we can operate our platforms to the full extent up to and beyond the speed of sound. The beauty of operating in Australia and what attracts our international guests here is the size of our airspace. It is that we have one, if not the best training space in Australia”.

TNI-AU pilot and ground crew perform an engine run during the inteview

What of the the differences between the F-18 and the F-16 – “It is critical that we operate with and against other platforms and we don’t get used to our own capabilities… its important in extending our aircrew’s understanding in what we need to do if, and when, we turn up to that merge or fight and see a different aircraft type. We have to identify that aircraft and understand where it’s strengths and weaknesses lay. So the F-16 is very different to the F-18 which is an agile 4th generation fighter whereas the F-16 has an excellent thrust to weight ratio…a big engine for a small aeroplane, which can make it agile in terms of the BFM (dogfighting) we are doing at the moment. But turn performance is also very important and that’s where the F-18’s strength lays”.

Hornet A21-8 in one of the OLA’s

Although live weapons will not be employed during this exercise – “Next week when we get into the 4 V X package work, we are operating in a multi-role scenario, so we will be literally fighting out way in through an air to air adversary, we will be simulating dropping weapons and fighting our way out. We aren’t using any airborne control (E-7A Wedgetail) because we are flying WVR (Within Visual Range) but we do have 114MCRU (No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit) up here monitoring the airspace which we may use next week when we go BVR (Beyond Visual Range)”

As we wrap up the interview the CO confirms that there may be some reduced flying next week, “Even though everyone loves to fly, none more than me, due to the increasing complexities of military operations, much more effort needs to be focused at investing on in-depth planning to attain better outcomes – We just can’t afford to waste a minute in the air”

From the MHS we are escorted out to an OLA (Ordinance Loading Area) where we find two 75 Sqn F/A-18A’s parked under the roof. A21-34 has had the centreline fuel tank and pylon removed so that the maintenance crew can work on part of the engine bleed air system. It is fitted with engine intake FOD screens to protect the engines from ingesting foreign objects while performing ground runs.

FOD screens fitted to engine intakes during ground engine runs.

The 20 minute photo opportunity is enhanced by the CO explaining various aspects of the Hornet, its operation and giving a  simulating part of a pilot’s are flight walk around of A21-8.

CO 75 Sqn
WGCDR Grant describing some of the the Hornet capabilities
CO 75 Sqn
Simulated pre-flight checks

He explains that the aircraft are fitted with an Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation Pod (ACMI Pod) which uses GPS positioning to identify the aircraft position in the battle space – this information is then used to monitor, review or analyse the merge and subsequent air combat manoeuvring of each aircraft to improve training.

Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation Pod (ACMI Pod)

On the other wingtip (port) the Hornet has a missile fitted to the launcher. This is the Matra-BAe AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air Air Missile (ASRAAM) which has been in service since 2004 as the RAAF’s Within Visual Range (WVR) missile. Although a training missile, the Infra Red (IR) seeker head is the real deal so the pilot still has seek, track and lock functions providing feedback as if it were a live weapon.

Aim-132 ASRAAM
Matra-BAe AIM-132 Advanced Short Range Air Air Missile (ASRAAM)

Nearby we hear some aircraft starting up their APU’s and soon after the sounds of GE F404-GE-400’s, the Hornets main engines.

Ready for before action
75 Squadron Hornet A21-8

With the arrival of the Base Safety Officer we drive to the BRA apron and are given a brief in regards to safety at our position, the 5500’ marker, pretty much smack bang in the middle Darwin’s 11,000 foot runway. Once we sort our gear we wait for the aircraft to taxi.

TNI-AU F-16C crews
TNI-AU ground crew driving past to the ‘arming point’ at the runway end.

First the 75 Sqn F/A-18’s taxi out but wait for the No 3 SkU (Squadron) TNI-AU F-16C’s to pass them as they are slotted to depart first. The F-16’s will pause at the holding point while the TNI-AU maintenance teams simulate ‘arming’ of their aircraft, before lining up on runway 29.

A21-12 holds for F-16’s
F-16c TS-1625 taxies to holding

Pilots taxiing past a few media with cameras?……naturally we get a wave from one,two or three.

TS-1625 Pilot sharing the “Love” of aviation
We get the “wave” from TS-1639 Pilot
A21-12, the “1” of a 2 vs 1 package following the two F-16’s.

Todays first morning wave consists of two F-16C’s launching followed by a single F/A-18A. There is always something satisfying for an aviation fan when standing 50 meters from jet aircraft as they roar past with afterburners lit… especially paired two-up.

Paired departures in order again today
Gear going up.

Next to depart was a pair of F-18’s followed by a single F-16 – another variation of the 2 v.s 1 scenario mix and match the 75 Sqn CO was explaining to us about earlier.

Paired Hornets out bound
The ‘Chaser’

After a half hour break to allow some media to depart, we returned to the runway, heat haze playing havoc, for the second time of the morning. Firstly a F-16 vs F-18 before another 2 F-18 vs 1 F-16 package signalled the end of morning departures.

Temperature rising
A21-51 with 77Sqn tail flash – sharing aircraft is common practice these days.
A21-32 ARDU tail flash – most F/A-18s will end up at 75 Sqn as it will be the last to transition to the new F-35 Litening II
TS-1627 off the runway early

Within minutes we could see the landing lights of the first aircraft returning – a TNI-AU F-16 announced by the Base Safety Officer who was listening to Darwin Ground/Tower frequencies on his radio. For the next 10 minutes we were treated to the returning jets landing one after the other, some in pairs, rolling out past us to their respective OLA or flightline.

Rolling through the intersection
Back into the heat haze
“Success” ?
Some aerodynamic braking

Occasionally civilian props or jets were slotted in between military movements. As Darwin airport is a shared facility, RAAF 452 Sqn operates the Control Tower and ATC and as such performs scheduling of both civilian and military traffic into and out of Darwin, including ground movements, all which can become a little bit hectic, especially during peak periods such as exercises.

Careflight B200 King Air
Care Flight 25 – Beech King Air landing
Air North Embraer 170
Air North Embraer 170 taxi’s past between military jets

It was with some relief, even for a local, that we left the blazing midday sun next to the runway and headed for the shade of an OLA for some final static aircraft photos.

“Armed” nose flag
Hornets tail

After thanking the 75Sqn CO and BSO, and handing in the pass, it was time to leave the base via the front gate. What a fantastic day and one that I will not forget for a long time.

I would like to thank Wing Commander Michael Grant (CO 75SQN) and the RAAF Public Relations team, Marnie, FOFF Dea, Sgt Hall who allowed me to have a small insight into day to day operations during another of the Top Ends regular exercises.

Cheers Sid Mitchell

My kit is Nikon D7100, Nikkor 18-300mm, 70-200mm and 200-500mm with a sandisk card.

TNI-AU F-16C flightline

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LATAM Airlines comes to Melbourne with their 787-9



LATAM South American airlines flight LA805 arrived at Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport at approximately  18:39 pm local time. This being their first service into the Melbourne and operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner  CC -BGN for the inaugural service. 

CC-BGN LATAM Boeing 787-9 ASO (1 of 1)
Touch down on runway 34 for flight LA805

The Oneworld alliance member will be bringing their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to Melbourne three times weekly.
 LATAM will fly non-stop flights between Melbourne and Santiago (Chile), starting October  6th 2017. It is a unique flight to and from Melbourne as it’s  the only direct link between Melbourne and Latin America.

CC-BGN LATAM Boeing 787-9 ASO 6 (1 of 1)
CC-BGN begins to slow down concluding the first flight by LATAM to Melbourne

CC-BGN LATAM Boeing 787-9 ASO 5 (1 of 1)

CC-BGN LATAM Boeing 787-9 ASO 4 (1 of 1)

CC-BGN LATAM Boeing 787-9 ASO 8 (1 of 1)
The aircraft is greeted with the traditional Water Cannon salute by the Melbourne Airport Fire Rescue crews.

LATAM’s return flight, LA804 which departed Melbourne at 18:10pm will be a regular feature into Melbourne every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, and arriving in Santiago at approximately 7.00pm the same day.

CC-BGN LATAM Boeing 787-9 ASO 9 (1 of 1)
CC-BGN pulls into bay Delta 20
CC-BGN LATAM Boeing 787-9 ASO 10 (1 of 1)
The new generation of passenger airliners, the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 are a regular feature now of Melbourne Airport.
LATAM has fourteen of the Boeing 787-9s in service, with the first one being introduced to airline service in 2016, the Dash-9s operate along side 10 of the shorter 787-8.
Que tengan un buen viaje! (have a safe flight)
Aviation Spotters Online again thanks Melbourne International Airport for their support in the preparation of this article.
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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.

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The RAAF Roulettes triumphant return to Brisbane Riverfire.
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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.

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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
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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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Thai Airways brings the Airbus A350 to Melbourne.


October 1st at approximately 1:03pm HS-THH touched down on its 1st visit and 1st international revenue service for Thai Airways. Thus becoming the third operator of the new generation Airbus A350 into Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.

HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO 3 (1 of 1)

While Singapore Airlines was the first to operate to the airport, Thai’s Airbus A350 service will be a permanent feature as the airline replaces the Boeing 777 services of TG465 and TG 466 between Melbourne-Bangkok return.

Thai Airways received their first Airbus A350 on August 31st 2016, with the first aircraft HS-THB an A350-941 touched down at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand to a large welcome party and ceremony. Thai has ordered 12 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft, with four firm orders and eight aircraft leases. The aircraft was Royally bestowed the name “Wichian Buri”, which is a district in southern part of Phetchabun Province, northern Thailand.

HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO (1 of 1)
TG456 touches down for the first time at Melbourne International Airport.
HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO 4 (1 of 1)
HS-THH slows down after landing on runway 27.

Airbus designed the A350 around modern technology. Some seventy percent of the A350 XWB is made of weight-efficient technology using advanced composite materials such as titanium and advanced aluminium as well as an all-new Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic fuselage which results in a considerably lower fuel burn as well as less required maintenance.

HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO 7 (1 of 1)
The Airbus A350 is a great looking plane and looks fantastic in the Thai Airways livery.
HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO 8 (1 of 1)
HS-THH receives the traditional water cannon salute, from Melbourne Fire Services.

Touching down as TG465 from Bangkok the aircraft made its way to gate D14 where the passengers disembarked. Thai Airways plan as more airframes arrive to increase their A350 services to Melbourne and Sydney.

HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO 9 (1 of 1)
“THAN TO” pulls into the arrival gate.
HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO 10 (1 of 1)
HS-THH is one of 12 the airline will receive.

Thai put on a special greeting for passengers flying the return leg on as TG466 to Bangkok.

HS-THH Thai Airways Airbus A350-941 ASO 11 (1 of 1)

Aviation Spotters Online wishes to thank Melbourne Airport again for their assistance in the preparation of this article.

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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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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.


IMGL2078-1 copy
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.

ASO 24 (1 of 1)
USAF KC-135 launches from Avalon
ASO 25 (1 of 1)
Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130H one of two which came to Avalon
ASO 15 (1 of 1)
Some of the Internationals on display
ASO 17 (1 of 1)
ASO 19 (1 of 1)
Royal Air Force A400M
ASO 14 (1 of 1)
Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130J
ASO 23 (1 of 1)
Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757
RNZAF C-130H ASO (1 of 1)
Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H
ASO 13 (1 of 1)
ASO 35 (1 of 1)
USAF B-1B arrives
ASO 31 (1 of 1)
The French Air Force again brought their CN-235 Maritime Patrol aircraft to display.
ASO 32 (1 of 1)
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.

A34-003 RAAF C-27J ASO (1 of 1)
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!
ASO 39 (1 of 1)
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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Japan Airlines comes to Melbourne Airport.

In the early to mid 1990’s passenger travel between Australia and Japan was at an all time high. With some two and a half million seats sold between the two countries.

The SARS crisis and the Global Financial Crisis dramatically slowed traffic there after. Fast forward to today and Traffic levels are once again on the rise.


Japan Airlines (1 of 1)
Flight JL773 operated by Boeing 787-8, JA845J pulls into gate D20.


Japan Airlines announced its intention to fly between Tokyo and Melbourne back in May.

On Friday night the 1st September at around 21:36 Flight JL773 operated by Boeing 787-8 JA845J took the honor of operating the inaugural service.

Greeted at gate D20 were two of Airservices Australia’s, Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) – fire tenders to provide the traditional water arch salute.

Japan Airlines 2 (1 of 1)
The aircraft receives the traditional water arch welcome.


Japan Airlines 4 (1 of 1)
Ground staff prep the aircraft for a turnaround.


Japan Airlines 3 (1 of 1)
ARFF Fire Tenders depart back to station.


On board the flight was JAL’s Chairman Mr Masaru Onishi who took the time to speak about the airlines new route and its importance to Japan Airlines.


Japan Airlines 7 (1 of 1)
JAL’s Chairman Mr Masaru Onishi with flight attendants were all smiles for the airlines first return flight to Melbourne in many years.


Japan Airlines 6 (1 of 1)
JAL staff give the opportunity for media and guests to capture the event.


The crew and aircraft were only in the country for a short time as it was reloaded for the return flight as JL774 to Tokyo.

JAL have configured the aircraft with 161 seats which broken down comprises of 38 business seats, 35 premium economy  and 88 economy seats.


Japan Airlines 5 (1 of 1)
The aircraft is quickly turned around for the return flight to Tokyo.


Once again Aviation Spotters Online wishes to thank the team at Melbourne Airport for their assistance in the preparation of this article.


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The Red Baron Flies Again.

The quiet grass strip at Luskintyre,in the Hunter Valley near Newcastle, NSW, had an unusual, but very welcome visitor recently, in the form of Fokker DR.1 Triplane replica, VH-FXP, operated by The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS) in Queensland.Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3284-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0850-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0152-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-1656-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3064-001-ASO

The Triplane replica had been at Luskintyre for some work at the hands of Matt Webber and the professional team at Luskintyre Aircraft Restorations.Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3613-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0726-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-1144-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-1255-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3489-001-ASO

The post-maintenance check flight was carried out by Paul Bennet from Paul Bennet Airshows who said that the Triplane was very enjoyable to fly.

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0078-001-ASO
Matt Webber and Paul Bennet discuss the finer points of the unusual Triplane prior to the check-flight.
Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-0036-001-ASO
What an incredible comparison in both size and performance for single engined, propeller-driven aircraft.

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-2453-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-3742-001-ASO

Mottys-Triplane VH-FXP Luskintyre Paul Bennet-4125-001-ASO

Our sincere thanks to the teams at Paul Bennet Airshows and Luskintyre Aircrfat Restorations for the opportunity to capture this very interesting aircraft in such a great setting. 


Click HERE to see the full gallery of images.

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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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