Aviation Spotters Online http://aviationspottersonline.com Photography For The Aviation Industry Sat, 16 Sep 2017 02:58:35 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 http://aviationspottersonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/cropped-11667367_442417382605240_4991592252737306921_n-32x32.jpg Aviation Spotters Online http://aviationspottersonline.com 32 32 Avalon International Airshow 2017 http://aviationspottersonline.com/avalon-international-airshow-2017/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/avalon-international-airshow-2017/#comments Fri, 08 Sep 2017 11:16:55 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=53886 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
ASO 13 (1 of 1)
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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Japan Airlines comes to Melbourne Airport. http://aviationspottersonline.com/japan-airlines-comes-to-melbourne-airport/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/japan-airlines-comes-to-melbourne-airport/#respond Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:51:40 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=67278 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.


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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.


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Ground staff prep the aircraft for a turnaround.


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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.


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JAL’s Chairman Mr Masaru Onishi with flight attendants were all smiles for the airlines first return flight to Melbourne in many years.


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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. http://aviationspottersonline.com/the-red-baron-flies-again/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/the-red-baron-flies-again/#comments Sat, 02 Sep 2017 09:27:24 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=67207 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 http://aviationspottersonline.com/vulcan-turns-65-years-old/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/vulcan-turns-65-years-old/#respond Wed, 30 Aug 2017 13:06:27 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=67095 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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Royal Thai Navy Museum U-Tapao Naval Base http://aviationspottersonline.com/royal-thai-navy-museum-u-taupo-naval-base/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/royal-thai-navy-museum-u-taupo-naval-base/#comments Fri, 18 Aug 2017 08:00:10 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=66627 The Royal Thai Navy has established an aviation museum in recent times at one of its operating bases. The base at U-Tapao is located 140Kms Southeast of Bangkok and is home to the Royal Thai Navy First Air Wing.

RTN LR 1 (1 of 1)

U-Tapao is the main flying base for the Royal Thai Navy, a breakdown of the the Squadrons within the Royal Thai Navy are as follows:

  • No 101 Squadron flying Dornier DO-228-212
  • No 102 Squadron flying Lockheed P-3T/UP-3T and Fokker F-27-200ME
  • No 103 Squadron flying Cessna 337 H-SP
  • No 201 Squadron flying Canadair CL-215  and Fokker F-27-400M
  • No 202 Squadron flying Bell 212 helicopters
  • No 203 Squadron flying Bell 214SP helicopters , Sikorsky S-76B  and Super Lynx Mk.110
  • No 302 Squadron flying Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters

Two squadrons are defunct:

  • No 104 Squadron which flew A-7E and  TA-7C Corsair strike aircraft
  • No 301 Squadron which flew AV-8S and TAV-8S

RTN LR 2 (1 of 1)

Royal Thai Navy History

Some history of the Arm: It was established in the late-19th century, Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartiwongse (1880–1923) is considered “the father of the Royal Thai Navy”. Similar to the organisational structure of the United States Navy, the Royal Thai Navy includes the naval fleet and the Royal Thai Marine Corps. The Royal Thai Navy operates out of Sattahip Naval Base in Sattahip Bay. Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that operates an aircraft carrier, although today it is used as a helicopter only carrier with the retirement of the Harrier fighter wing. Thailand was the second Asian nation to acquire submarines, following Japan, but has had no submarines since 1950.

McDonnell Douglas AV-8 Harrier

Nine aircraft were sourced from the Spanish Navy in 1996, being delivered in 1997 on the aircraft carrier ‘RTNS Chakri Naruebe’. The aircraft were operated by 1 Squadron 3 Wing. Two TAV-8S and seven AV-8S were to see brief service until lack of spares saw the type withdrawn from service in 2006.

RTN LR 6 (1 of 1)
McDonnell Douglas TAV-8S 3101, one of two operated by Wing 3 301 Squadron.
RTN LR 3 (1 of 1)
TAV-8S Harrier 3101, or Bu159563 is one of two of these variants flown by the RTN for pilot training.

Grumman S-2 Tracker

A type ceremonious with many Navy Air Arms across the world, the RTN operated 12 examples in two different versions, the S-2F and US-2C. The type entering service in 1952 for surveillance and flight training.

The Tracker on display 1103 or Bu136430 a S-2F formally operated by 101 Squadron, is on display fitted with wing rocket pods. The aircraft was receiving some touch ups to the nose when I visited.


RTN LR 9 (1 of 1)
S-2F 1103 was operated by Wing 1 number 101 Squadron.
RTN LR 8 (1 of 1)

Douglas C-47 Dakota

What Air Arm hasn’t operated the Dakota? Gooney Bird, Biscuit Bomber or Spooky – what ever the name – and when Douglas Aircraft started production, no one would have guessed that over 10,000 would be produced.

The Royal Thai Navy initially took delivery of nine airframes supplied from ex USAF stocks. A further thirteen were delivered later on. The type was withdrawn from service with the last examples leaving the service in 1999. Several aircraft are still in storage at the base, with one example in fantastic condition on display at the Museum Park.

RTN LR 11 (1 of 1)
C-47A, 2102/ 44-76418 proudly sits on display proudly showing its 201 Squadron markings.
RT Navy U-Taupo Museum C-47A ASO (1 of 1)
The C-47s were operated by Wing 2 number 201 Squadron.

Vought A-7 Corsair

RTN LR 7 (1 of 1)
Vought A-7E Corsair 1403 is ex US Navy Bu160859.

Eighteen A-7 Corsairs saw operational service with the RTN. Fourteen A-7E and four TA-7Cs flew with 104 Squadron. Supplied from ex US Navy stocks they started arriving in 1995. The type was operational until 2002 with three are on display at the museum.

RT Navy U-Taupo Museum A-7C 1406 ASO (1 of 1)
Vought A-7E Corsair 1406 is ex US Navy Bu160545
RT Navy U-Taupo Museum TA-7C 1416 ASO (1 of 1)
Vought TA-7C Corsair 1418 is one of two twin-stick aircraft flown by the RTN. It is ex US Navy Bu156779.
RT NAvy A7 Corsair x 3 (1 of 1)
All three aircraft on display. The Corsairs were operated by Wing 1, 104 Squadron.

Bell 214ST

Six of this version of the Bell 214 were delivered to the RTN from 1986. The type was operated by 203 Squadron along side Sikorsky S-76. Five examples are believed to still be on strength.  2305 was withdrawn from use and used as a spares source for the rest of the fleet until it was restored and allocated to display in 2015.

RT Navy U-Taupo Bell 214ST 2305 4 (1 of 1)
2305 was part of Wing 2 and flown by 203 Squadron.

RTN LR 10 (1 of 1)

RT Navy U-Taupo Bell 214ST 2305 3 (1 of 1)

Lockheed P-3 Orion

Thailand ordered three ex US Navy P-3As in 1989 for coastal surveillance and transport duties. It wasn’t until 1995 that the aircraft arrived after being modified to suit the Navy’s requirements. Two were re-designated at P-3Ts when they entered service and a third was delivered as a UP-3T, however this was modified to a VP-3T  standard, with seats installed and retaining a limited SENTAC station to still perform surveillance duties. A further two P-3A examples also came to Thailand for use as spares, these never entered service.

RT Navy U-Taupo Museum TP-3N ASO 3 (1 of 1)
Operated by Wing 1 and flown by 102 Squadron the Orion.
RT Navy U-Taupo Museum TP-3N ASO (1 of 1)
VP-3T 1206 was the only example of this Orion type to enter service with the RT Navy. It was withdrawn form service in 2014 and moved to the museum site in early 2015.

GAF N24 Nomad

One of the reasons that I wanted to go to the base was to see this ex Aussie. The Australian Government delivered four N24A Nomads to the RT Navy in 1984 as part of a foreign aid package. A fifth would be purchased by Thailand 1985.

RTN LR 4 (1 of 1)
The Nomad fleet was operated as part of Wing 2 and was operated by 201 Squadron alongside, C-47, CL-215, F-27, and Do228s.

The type saw service until its retirement in 2010. Former VH-UUQ became 2109 in RT Navy service and later joined the Navy Museum in September 2015.

RTN LR 5 (1 of 1)

Cessna 0-1A Birddog

The Cessna Birddog was operated by both the Navy and Air Force in Thailand with vast numbers being flown by the Air Force when in service. The Birddog was employed in the short range support role and liaison. On display is 1302 which is a O-1G Birddog, this airframe entered service in 1975.

RT Navy U-Taupo Cessna O-1G Birddog 1302 (1 of 1)
1302 ex USAF 51-16973 was one of 8 flown by 103 Squadron as part of Wing 1.

Cessna U-17B

Another Cessna type to see service was the U-17. Thirteen A and B models were to fly with Thai markings, entering service in 1974. Operated by 103 Squadron alongside the Birddog, the U-17s were finally withdrawn from service in 2001.

RT Navy U-Taupo Cessna U-17B 1308 (1 of 1)

Grumman HU-16 Albatross

Outside the main entrance to the base and accessible to the general public is a Grumman HU-16 Albatross Flyingboat. 151265 was one of three HU-16B versions delivered to the Royal Thai Navy.  The type initially operated from Don Muang before relocation to U-Taupo.

RT Navy U-Taupo Museum HU-16C 151265 ASO 2 (1 of 1)

RT Navy U-Taupo Museum HU-16C 151265 ASO (1 of 1)

A huge thank you to the staff/military personnel that showed me around after being granted access to tour the base museum as it is not open to the general public.

Cheers Dave Soda
“My kit is Canon 7D, Cannon 24-105mm, 100-400mm and use Sandisk cards.”

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VMM-268 MV-22B Osprey soft lands at Larrakeyah Defence Precinct http://aviationspottersonline.com/vmm-268-mv-22b-osprey-soft-lands-at-larrakeyah-defence-precinct/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/vmm-268-mv-22b-osprey-soft-lands-at-larrakeyah-defence-precinct/#comments Sun, 13 Aug 2017 04:26:50 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=66745  

As part of the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct Open Day in Darwin this year, members of the Marine Rotational Force Darwin and VMM 268 “Red Dragons” provided a now familiar foreign flavour to the displays that were on hand. The open day officially launches the Northern Territory’s Navy Week 2017.
The MV-22B Ospreys have been a common sight and sound around Darwin since arriving late April this year. Today was a opportunity for the public to again see the unique aircraft up close as some would remember attending a similar display provided by a MV-22B from VMM-265 back in July 2015.

VMM-265 Osprey "00" July 2015
VMM-265 Osprey “00” leaving the July 2015 Open Day.

After loitering over Darwin harbour and the crowds being ushered back to the boundary of the oval, MV-22B ’05′ piloted by 1st T.J Lt Flanagan performed an initial low level flypast over HMAS Coonawarra to grab the crowds attention, which it certainly did.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 low pass
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 low pass.
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 low pass
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 low pass.
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 low pass
Osprey over the roof tops.

Then transitioning from forward flight to hover mode, the Osprey gently landed in the centre of the oval throwing up some grass and leaf clippings. Prior to arriving the crowds had been reminded to restrain loose objects like hats, umbrellas and prams (and jokingly – small children) to ensure they weren’t blown away by the considerable downwash generated by the two proprotors.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing
Checking clearance.
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing
Kicking up some grass clippings.
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing
On the pitch.

Once on the soft ground and with a slight tilt forward to the rotors, the rear ramp and side door opened and two crew members emerged to perform some post landing checks such as nose landing gear safety pin and main landing gear chocks being placed in position. Shortly after the the Rolls-Royce turbines were shut down and the rotors ceased their most distinctive sound.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing
Pins and chocks in.
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing

It wasn’t long before the curious crowd wandered over and began inspecting the Osprey – many for the first time. It was a great opportunity for the public to have a real close up look, take photos and ask the crew a myriad of questions about this strang beast.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 on display
The public move in for a closer look at “05”.

The Boeing/Bell MV-22B Osprey is a peculiar looking aircraft with two large Proprotors that enable it to perform both like a helicopter when taking off or landing and a conventional aeroplane when in forward flight. 

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 on display
Starboard engine nacelle and proprotor.
1st Lt Flanagan VMM-268 'Red Dragons"
1st Lt Flanagan pilot with VMM-268 ‘Red Dragons”.

I was fortunate to casually chat with the Pilot, 1st Lt T.J Flanagan, and asked him how the aircraft was dealing with the dusty conditions – extra maintenance and he remarked, pointing to a brown patch over the right hand undercarriage housing, how much Northern Territory dust has been collected while performing operations in the Bradshaw and Mt Bundey training areas. He explained that the conditions often result in a brown out when they are about to land at remote Territory landing fields due to the dust swirling around from the rotor downwash. He told me they have equipment attached to the helmet that they can use which provides a daylight HUD (Heads up display) indicating flight parameters relating to position and attitude of the Osprey. He also explains that while the Aircraft Commander sits in the right seat, maintaining overall command and communications, he is directing the pilot in the left seat who does the actual hands on flying.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing
Grass… not quite as dense as Northern Territory bulldust.

I asked him about the training he went through and he said – we start out at the same level but end up with choices of jets, like the Hornet or Harrier, props, helicopters or tilt-rotors. Initial training is in single engine aircraft learning basic flight control – then progress to both twin engined aircraft – the Beech 200 or UC-12 Huron as it is known – and the TH-57 Sea Ranger, the military equivalent of a Bell-206, if you are streamed to Tilt-Rotors.

Training for the Tilt-Rotors is carried out at Marine Medium Tilt -Rotor Training Squadron 204 (VMMT-204) located at MCAS New River in North Carolina. From there the USMC Aviators can be posted to one of nearly 20 Tilt-Rotor squadrons.1st Lt Flanagan explains the latest version of the MV-22 simulator is really amazing – it is a full motion simulator that has movement in all three axis and can simulate the acceleration and deceleration feeling of a real aircraft. The visual cues from hi definition screens out the windows generates very real environment imagery.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 departing Larrakeyah
Stowing the undercarraige on take off.

The training is unique as there is an additional aspect to consider when transitioning to or from hover flight and forward flight. He explains that the control inputs are complicated because the cyclic (stick) and the collective (in old terms), the thrust control lever, are ok in full airplane or full helicopter modes – it’s the area between that can be a challenge to fresh pilots. The throttle/pitch control slides forward and backwards and not up and down like a collective stick in a helicopter and it is easy for a new pilot to ‘balloon’ their landing – apply to much thrust instead of reducing, because it is actually rotor lift – when transitioning from the aerodynamic lift of the wings.

Cockpit of VMM-265 Osprey "00" July 2015
Cockpit of VMM-265 Osprey “00”

He goes on to explain some unique features of the Osprey – exhaust deflectors for when the aircraft lands, diverting most of the hot exhaust outboard and not directly at the ground – pointing to the oval grass under one engine, he says that wouldn’t last too long after a few landings. He also spoke of the trials on the deck coating materials where they were required to land and remain in position over various experimental pads covered in different coatings to determine which worked better.

Osprey exhaust/ deflector
Avoiding the burn.

Another feature of the MV-22B is the unique rotor driveline. Although, he says, there are two turbines, each is connected and synchronised via driveshafts in a central gearbox located over the main fuselage. Should one engine fail in forward flight there would be hardly any noticeable difference in performance as the Osprey is still generating lift by it’s wings as the drivetrain engages both rotors to one engine. When in hover mode it is a very different scenario because all lift is generated by the rotors which require a large amout of available horsepower.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 on display
Forward tilt after landing.
Rotors connected via a central gearbox.
Both rotor connected vie shafts within the wings and a central gearbox.

The mid wing gearbox also provides auxiliary systems such a hydraulic #3 and the Environmental Conditioning System (Air conditioning)- he then smiles and says it’s  broken on this machine. But hey, it’s the dry season in the NT I respond.

I mentioned the rotor tip LED lighting I have seen in night pics and he laughs and say that it is really cool system- they can be adjusted for brightness and frequency or a strobe effect. He grins and says he doesn’t know why they don’t use that mode – its very cool.

MV22B Ospreywingtip LED
Rotor blade tip LED – used during reduced visibility to identift the rotor disc arc.

While we have been chatting the line of people waiting to walk up the rear ramp, through the fuselage and out the front service door hasn’t reduced less that 25m. A good sign the public is satisfying their curiosity, especially the young kids who are full of questions for the Marines, and of course it was a perfect opportunity for a few selfies.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 on display
Public access via the ramp.
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 on display
No rain – no wipers.
"05" Crew
Fielding plenty of questions.

With more questions from other visitors beginning to be asked of 1st Lt Flanagan, I say farewell as he takes up my offer off a few free photos that I will send him, and wander off avoiding the still constant flow of people. The USMC Osprey was certainly a winner for the public today, maybe not for the grounds keeper as I chuckle to myself while looking at how deep the nose wheels have sunk into the cricket pitch grass.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 on display
Soft landing
VMM-268 "Red Dragons" insignia
VMM-268 “Red Dragons” insignia
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 on display
Public lining up well into the afternoon.

At about 5:45 pm the crew fire up “05” and after obtaining clearance from Darwin Tower, depart the oval at Larrakeyah.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 departing Larrakeyah
Departing Larrakeyah open day.
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 departing Larrakeyah
Departing Larrakeyah

For most of the next hour the crew practice various approach types to RAAF Base Darwin with missed approaches thrown in for good measure, finally landing just after the sun has dipped below the horizon.

MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 practicing approaches
Missed approach
MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing RAAF Base Darwin
Last for the day


MV22B Osprey from VMM-268 landing RAAF Base Darwin
RAAF Base Darwin

I have a feeling this isn’t the last year we will see the USMC Ospreys operating out of Darwin and look forward to them returning possibly next year. VMM-268 and HMLA-367 are due to depart in the next month or so, ending this years MRF-D ACE (Marine Rotational Force – Darwin Air Combat Element) Fortes Futuna Juvat

 A big thanks to the crews from the Red Dragons for taking the time to open up their tilt-rotor world to ASO and the public of Darwin.

Cheers Sid Mitchell

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

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Batting the Home Run as VMFA(AW)-242 depart Darwin. http://aviationspottersonline.com/batting-the-home-run-as-vmfaaw-242-depart-darwin/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/batting-the-home-run-as-vmfaaw-242-depart-darwin/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 20:30:16 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=65287 USMC Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, or VMFA(AW)-242 for short, arrived in Darwin back at the end of May 2017 for Exercise Diamond Storm, the Air Warfare Instructors Course (AWIC) and Arnhem Thunder. The “Bats” brought 10 F/A-18D’s with them, along with enough personnel and equipment to fulfill the two month deployment operating out of RAAF Base Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia.

F/A-18D “09” from VMFA(AW)-242 arriving into Darwin.

The squadron’s origin dates back to the 1943 formation at MCAS El Centro, California where Marine Torpedo Bomber Squadron 242 (VMTB-242) flew Grumman TBF Avengers from the USS Kitkun Bay. At the end of WWII the squadron was disbanded on return to the USA. Reactivation of the squadron in October 1960 saw Marine Attack Squadron 242 (VMA-242) flying the A-4 Skyhawk. The “Slashers”, as they were known as then, had their first in a long line of deployments to MCAS Iwakuni in 1963. After re-equipping with the A-6A Intruder they truly became an “All Weather” (AW) squadron which is now a designation applied to any current Hornet squadron that previously flew the Intruder.

During 1966, VMA(AW)-242 deployed to Da Nang Air Base where they adopted the nickname “Batmen” due mainly to their ability to perform attacks at night or in heavy weather. The shortening of their name to the “Bats” occured in the early 80’s while they operated the electronically improved A-6E Intruder. Transitioning to the current F/A-18D Hornet in 1990, they finally reached their current designation of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA(AW)-242), along with adopting the motto, “Mors ex Tenebris,” Death from the Darkness.

‘Mors ex Tenebris’ – the Bats motto – Death from the Darkness

Through the first decade of the new millennium, the Bats continued to deploy abroad, including the middle east (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and in 2008, while on deployment #9 to Iwakuni,  it was to become their permanent station. After 50 years combined at both Miramar and around Southern California, VMFA(AW)-242 became the USMC’s only permanently forward deployed Fighter-Attack squadron. While based at Iwakuni the Bats have been performing training with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) or assigned deployments to participate in exercises within the south east asia region.

Which brings us back to this deployment – the Bats operating out of Darwin for the first time.

A ‘Bat” about to touchdown in Darwin after the long ferry flight.
USAF KC-10A Extender (85-0033), from 60th/349th Air Mobility Wing – Travis AFB

Arriving the last week of May with the support of KC-10A Extender tankers from the 60th/349th Air Mobility Wing – Travis AFB, the squadron soon settled into the BRA facilities at RAAF Base Darwin. Some personel arrived from Iwakuni via an Onmi Air International 767-300 –  outsourcing troop transport to the civilian sector is common practice these days.

Omni Air International 767-300 N477AX in from MCAS Iwakuni

They proceeded to set up maintenance areas and operations buildings and reconfigured the aircraft from the ferry set up of 3 external FPU-9/A tanks and some with a ‘pannier’ to just two tanks for local missions. Due to limited hangar space on base some maintenance was performed out on the apron in full sun. Fortunately it was Darwin’s ‘Dry Season’ which also made for much cooler nights than the during the humid “Wet”.

A pair of F404-GE-402 engines removed and ferry tanks resting in the background.
Night taxi and F/A-18D up on jacks for maintenance.

While performing missions during Exercise Diamond Storm in the Top End some aircraft were seen with a Litening Targeting pod fitted to the centreline station and the AGM-88E (CATM) could be seen loaded to an outboard pylon during the exercise. The AGM-88 is an Air to Surface missile designed to target electronic emissions from fixed or mobile surface-to-air radar sources. The CATM is a training version of the AGM-88E which contains a guidance and control section with electronics to allow acquisition and identification of targets. Other components such as the warhead and propellant (engine) are inert.

AGM-88E (CATM) loaded to Station # 8 – R/H outboard pylon

A sensor package modification called the ATARS – Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System, was also observed on a couple of aircraft. This is a nose end modification only applied to a few F/A-18D aircraft across a few squadrons, and replaces the M61A1 Vulcan cannon installation. The ATARS system uses a Reconnaissance Management System, interfaced with the APG-73 Radar and gathers infrared and visible light imagery which is recorded digitally and can be transmitted via a datalink pod.

ATARS sytem replaced the M61A1 Vulcan cannon.

For Air to Air mission applications the radar guided AIM-120C-7 (CATM) is also carried by the F/A-18’s of VMFA(AW)-242, being fitted to stations on the fuselage, and again is a non-launcheable training weapon. For short range engagements the infra-red guided AIM-9X Sidewinder is utilised and carraige of a CATM version can also be seen on wingtip stations #1 or #9.

AIM-120C-7 (CATM) loaded to station #4 – AIM-9X (CATM) loaded on wingtip station #1

The Bats made the transition into the concurrently occurring Exercise Arnhem Thunder which is an exercise aiming to develop and hone advanced air-to-ground combat training, not just in delivering live ordinance accurately onto a heavily defended targets, but acheiving it after fighting their way in and then fighting their way out again without loss.

Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) loaded to Station #2 pylon

Arnhem Thunder provided VMFA(AW)-242 the opportunity for multi-ship Hornet strikes and self-escort attack missions while employing the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) which was carried on the outboard wing pylons. Essentially the JDAM is a guidance kit fitted to ‘dumb’ bombs and as such, converts those unguided bombs into a precision ‘smart’ munitions. Guidance is performed by an inertial guidance system coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver meaning the weapon can be delivered in almost any type of weather conditions faced by the aircrews. The JADM kit can be fitted to both explosive and non-explosive bomb assemblies.

Off to the exercise area with Litening pod on centerline station.

Like the Royal Australian Air Force, the USMC employ the Northrop/Grumman Litening advance targeting pod. The pod is a multi-sensor targetting device which is used by aircrews to search, detect, identify and track targets at range before deploying weapons onto that target.

LITENING Advanced Targeting Pod – with spare.
Intial and pitch in the Darwin circuit.

Flying during Exercise Arnhem Thunder wasn’t restricted to just day missions either – although late returns meant that noise abatement procedures definately applied with TACAN, VOR standard or visual approaches as opposed to the ‘initial and pitch’ arrivals seen during Diamond Storm.

Lining up for sunset departure
Night launches
Before flight checks done and awaiting aircrews.

By the 4th week in July flying had wrapped up and the squadron has now been focused on squaring away and preparing for the return trip home – to MCAS Iwakuni in Japan. Deployment equipment can often be freighted by civilian transported contractors. It is not unusual to see Atlas Air and Omni Air International working hand in hand with US deployments to Australia. Flying into Darwin this week were both a B747 and B767 from Atlas Air.

Atlas Air B747-400 N409MC into Darwin from Honolulu
Dry season departure – RAAF Base Darwin
Atlas Air 767-300 N661GT into Darwin

Two KC-135R Stratotankers arrived in preperation for the Air to Air refuelling role during the ferry trip to Iwakuni. One from the 151st Air Refuelling Squadron of 134th ARW Tennessee ANG, stationed at McGhee Tyson ANG Base, Knoxville, Tennessee. the other from the 197th Air Refuelling Squadron of 161st ARW Arizona ANG, stationed at Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Phoenix, Arizona.

USAF Boeing KC-135 59-1517 151st Air Refuelling Squadron of 134th ARW Tennessee ANG,
USAF Boeing KC-135 64-14831 197th Air Refuelling Squadron of 161st ARW Arizona ANG

Both tankers are fitted with the drogue kit, essentially a standard boom, with a hose and drogue attachment that allows theKC-135R to accept recievers with refuelling probes, like the F/A-18 has, instead of the boom receptacle like on F-16’s. A typical scenario with two tankers usually provides support the first 6 Hornets (in this case) – with one KC-135R returning to drag the remaining aircraft home the following day.

Boeing KC-135 from 151st Air Refuelling Squadron departing Darwin
Goodbye wave.

After more than two months from their initial arrival, the crews and aircraft departed a dry RAAF Base Darwin on their way home to Iwakuni. We hope that the Bats had bit of a different experience while in Australia, not just the integration with the ADF during the exrcises, but enjoyed some ‘downtime’ exploring the local attractions – Croc parks and jumping tours, and the Katherine and Litchfield park regionns also.

“Bat….contact Darwin approach”

With VMFA(AW)-242 being one of the last USMC Hornet squadrons to transition to the Lockheed F-35B, they will be operating the legacy Hornet well into the mid 2020’s. Possibly we will see them in the Northern Territory again some time for an exercise – they are certainly welcome.

Black Bat into the 2020’s

A quick thank you to Capt J. of VMFA242 and the RAAF PAO during Exercise Diamond Storm.


My gear is Nikon D7100, 18-300mm 50mm, 70-200mm and 200-500mm, with Sandisk memory cards.


Image 1 of 44

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Heads UP Brisbane – Super Hornet and V8 Super Cars! http://aviationspottersonline.com/heads-up-brisbane-super-hornet-and-v8-super-cars/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/heads-up-brisbane-super-hornet-and-v8-super-cars/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 22:43:17 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=65452  

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


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

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

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

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





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Life’s a Beech Adventure. http://aviationspottersonline.com/lifes-a-beech-adventure/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/lifes-a-beech-adventure/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 08:16:04 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=65416 The beautiful silver twin seemed to hang motionless in the air as the day’s last light danced across its graceful, classic lines.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3332 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3647 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2785 -ASO

One of the newest additions (or returns?) to Australian skies is the lovely Beech 18 VH-BHS “Miss Maple” of Chris and Haley Tibbetts from Beech Adventures, based at Maitland, just west of Newcastle NSW.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4466-DTLR-1-1-001-ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3763 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3282 -ASO

Built originally in 1952 as a Beech D18S-3TM Expeditor for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the aircraft served for around 20 years before being sold off as surplus and bought by Hamilton Aircraft.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 1955 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3810 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4829 -ASO

While Beechcraft also built civilian versions of the ’18, the surplus ex-military airframes were a popular (and cheaper) choice for many as short-haul airliners, cargo carrying or business and private machines, and Hamilton applied a wide range of modifications to the airframes it bought to increase the performance and capacity of these very versatile aircraft.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2814 -ASO

 Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2923 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3414 -ASO

Some of the modifications which Hamilton applied to this airframe include extended wing tips, Cargo and air-stair doors, pilot’s escape hatch, two-piece windscreen, stacked exhausts & baffled cowls, an extra fuel tank in a slightly extended nose, a taller tailwheel and an increase to the angle-of-incidence of the tailplane. The performance benefits of these modifications meant an increase in maximum takeoff weight from 9,300Lbs to 10,100 and an increase of 20Kts in cruise speed.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2723-DTLR-1-1-001-ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2808 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2752 -ASO

A side-effect of these increases in cargo capacity and performance was that the type became popular with gun and drug-runners in the US and South America, and it was while being used in this capacity in the 1980s that Miss Maple was seized and impounded by US authorities before eventually being auctioned off.  Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3978 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4064 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4431 -ASO

The aircraft passed through a couple of owners in the US before being flown to Australia by Alan Miles and, still with its American Registration, used for tours with Australian Outback Safaris, and even the odd bit of film work in Queensland.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3818 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3312 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4776 -ASO

Current owners, Chris and Haley, then purchased the aircraft and, with a great deal of very much appreciated help from Luskintyre Aircraft Restoration, Paul Bennet Airshows and Hunter Aerospace, among others, have spent the past two years lovingly restoring her  to her former glory with a beautifully appointed interior and the classic “speedbird, silver finish with red and white trim. The name “Miss Maple” was chosen as a tribute to the aircraft’s origins with the RCAF.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3726 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3927 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3366 -ASO

Chris and Haley’s aim is to take Miss Maple to Australian airshows and display the beautiful lines of this classic aircraft for the crowds. They also hope to offer the public a chance to take an adventure flight with a difference. One of the limitations of many adventure flight offered by numerous operators around Australia is that only one person is able to go up at a time and the experience can’t be shared with others (simply due to the very nature of the aerobatic aircraft which are often used). What Beech Adventures can offer is the chance for the whole family to go together, in leather appointed comfort, for scenic flights around the Newcastle Coastline and beautiful Hunter Valley, or the local areas around the various airshows they attend, in an aviation classic. The large cargo door can also be removed for flight and the seats removed as well, making for a large cabin space which could also be used for parachute jump flights if required.Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2823 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2767 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 2756 -ASO

So keep an eye out for the beautiful “Miss Maple” at your next airshow and make sure to stop by and say G’day.

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4314 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 4103 -ASO

Mottys Beech Adventures Beech-18 VH-BHS 3935 -ASO

My sincere thanks to Chris and Haley Tibbetts of Beech Adventures and Paul Bennet and Glenn Graham from Paul Bennet Airshows for the opportunity to capture this classic in such beautiful light too.


Click HERE to see the full gallery of images.

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Honeywell Veteran brings its new tricks to town. http://aviationspottersonline.com/honeywell-veteran-brings-its-new-tricks-to-town/ http://aviationspottersonline.com/honeywell-veteran-brings-its-new-tricks-to-town/#comments Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:47:17 +0000 http://aviationspottersonline.com/?p=65200 fbgzkpsstitfzqhi5hgk

Honeywell, a name ceremonious with aviation across the world for more ways than one. Producing aircraft engines, cockpit systems and displays, inflight entertainment, gas turbine auxiliary power units and avionics to name a portion of the company’s business.

Recently Honeywell brought a rare type to Melbourne as part of a demonstration tour of Honeywell’s ‘Power of Connected World Tour’, their Boeing 757-225, N757HW testbed. Honeywell is showing off their connected solutions to the airline market, which includes everything from the hardware that runs the Wi-Fi connections for services for passengers, to analytics for pilots and ground crews.

N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 9 (1 of 1)

N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 10 (1 of 1)

An extremely rare type in Australia with only one currently registered, the Boeing 757 was never adopted by the two major airlines Ansett and Trans Australian Airlines. Both operated the 727 and also the smaller 737 and went in different directions with the larger wide bodies with Ansett selecting the 767 and TAA the Airbus A300. With this variety the 757 sadly didn’t fit within the domestic fleet. Fast forward today with only one example VH-TCA, a Boeing 757-236PCF operated by Tasman Cargo Airlines as a Freighter.

In the early 1980’s Boeing was looking for a replacement for the hugely successful 727 to which airlines were looking to replace with a more fuel efficient and larger passenger carrying aircraft. Boeing set about to design a 150+ seat airframe and alongside it a 200+ which would later become the 767. The 757 and 767 were co-developed and therefore shared common technology. The first 757 rolled out of the Renton, factory in 1982 which brought about large advancements including the now familiar two crew flight deck and glass cockpits. Another major advancement was cross-crew training which allowed crew to fly both types once trained. The 757-200 carried up to 228 passengers in airline service and had a range of approximately 3,900 nautical miles (7222 kilometers).

On Nov. 28, 2005, Boeing completed the final aircraft after a 23-year production run, which was delivered to Shanghai Airlines, the airplane being the 1,050th Boeing 757 produced.

Some history of this particular aircraft, layed down as construction number 22194, it was to see service as part of the test fleet for the type at Boeing. The aircraft first flew on February 4th 1983 and was delivered to Eastern Airlines as N504EA on February 28, 1983. Withdrawn from use in January 1991, Airtours International Airways registered it as G-JALC on February 1, 1995. Honeywell International Incorporated gave it its current registration on October 4, 2005. It was flown to Pinal Airpark for painting on October 24, 2005 and made its first flight with three engines on December 20, 2008.

N757HW ASO (1 of 1)
A prominent feature of the aircraft is the pylon on the starboard side of the aircraft. This is used to test engines under development.
N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 6 (1 of 1)
The modifications to support the test pylon means some substantial Modifications are done internally to not only support the weight of the engine, but also the hydraulic, fuel feed and sensor test probes.
N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 12 (1 of 1)
Close up of the forward fuselage third engine pylon installation.

ASO was given exclusive media access to this lovely 35 year old aircraft on the Melbourne leg of it’s world tour. The aircraft undertook an hour long mission out of Melbourne International Airport to highlight the Connected Aircraft to interested airline and aircraft officials.

N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 17 (1 of 1)

N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 7 (1 of 1)
No inflight service here, the cabin is set up for engineers to monitor the various systems installed during a mission test.

Honeywell representatives highlighted the way the test bed is changing how paying passengers communicate on board their flights, and how the systems lighten pilot work loads with real time data.

N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 16 (1 of 1)
Real time weather updates are presented to flightcrew as part of the ‘Connected Airframe’.
N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 5 (1 of 1)
The 757s cockpit layout is relatively unchanged from its commercial passenger time.

Connected Weather enables real time weather reporting with updates from as far as 300 miles ahead of the aircraft. This alone will help reduce fuel bills for airlines by a huge margin. Pilots will be able to optimise the vertical profile of the flight which also helps in reducing emissions.

Using Honeywell’s JetWave Satellite system enables passengers to have Wifi connectivity at speeds equivalent to those from home.

N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 20 (1 of 1)
Prospective clients, spent time with the Honeywell engineers and representatives, to gain a better understanding of the potential of the systems usage during the flight which saw us track from Melbourne to Launceston and return.

While on board ASO was able to experience the high speed connectivity to the point where I broadcasted live on our Facebook page.

Interview with Rachel on board the Honeywell connected 757

Posted by Aviation Spotters Online on Sunday, 23 July 2017

Arriving back into Melbourne after our flight, we did a pass around the bay before tracking back to the airport.
 N757HM Honeywell 757 2 ASO 18 (1 of 1)
Melbourne was the second to last leg of the tour after the crew and aircraft has visited, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India, China, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, with just one more stop in Canberra.
N757HW makes a missed approach on runway 27 this afternoon. Photo credit to James Pentland.


I was certainly a great experience to see the latest Next-Gen Cockpit Technology and use the latest WiFi Passenger technology in flight.
ASO wishes to thank Honeywell for their fantastic help and cooperation in the preparation of this article.
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