The Great Vintage Fly In, Caboolture

Bristol Fighter

Over the ANZAC Day long weekend (23-24th April), The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS) hosted the first “Great Vintage Fly In” at Caboolture airfield, about 40 minutes drive north of Brisbane.

Not only did TAVAS show off three of it’d flying aircraft (Fokker Dr.1, Bristol Fighter and the newly flying Fokker D.VIII) off to the public, but a whole host of vintage aircraft turned up for the crowd to enjoy.

Here are some photographs from the event.

OshKosh Awesomeness #4 – The Ford Tri-Motor

It’s an aircraft nicknamed “The Tin Goose” but the Henry Ford produced  Tri-Motor which was built for passenger travel.

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Meet “City of Wichita” or Serial #5-AT-8, Registration #N9645 for the ardent avgeek.

This little beauty from 1929 was originally owned by the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in Oregon before being acquired by the Liberty Aviation Museum in Ohio.

“Wichita” was part of the first transcontinental air and rail service which was called the Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT later becoming TWA).

Two Ford Tri-Motors took off on July 7, 1929 on their way to New York to Los Angeles on a route that was set out by Charles Lindbergh and with passengers that included Aviatrix, Amelia Earhart.

The aircraft went via Columbus, Ohio (and a few other places) before landing at Glendale, California showing that it was possible to fly from coast to coast in 48 hours.

The Tri-Motor has been referenced in pop culture appearing in Chapter 1 of Flash Gordon (1936) and got its time on celluloid in 1984’s Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Untouchables (1987).

Tri-Motor stopped production in June, 1933 and out of 199 made, only 18 still exist (8 of which are airworthy).

You can find more pictures of the “City of Wichita” here

OshKosh Awesomeness #3 – AirVenture

Aircraft, aircraft and more aircraft!

This photo says it all, no more words needed to describe Airventure 2014.



OshKosh Awesomeness #2 – Doolittle Raider

The aircraft was a B-25 Mitchell bomber and the date was April 18, 1942.

It became known as the Doolittle Raid and only four of the 80 men who flew into history that day are still alive.

One of them is Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, who was co-pilot to Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle.

He flew into Airventure 2014 on board “Miss Mitchell”.

“Miss Mitchell” completed over 130 missions in North Africa and Italy. She had no crew fatalities during all of her missions which is a rare feat.

The B-25J went through a 12 year restoration and took her first flight 50 years to the day of the Doolittle Raid.

When she’s not in the air, you can find her at the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.

OshKosh Awesomeness – Damn it Janet

Aircraft of all kinds and aviation enthusiasts have started their annual gathering at EAA’s Airventure in Wisconsin.

David and I are yet to experience the avgeek insanity that is OshKosh (as it’s better known and the name of the place its held) but we thought we’d put up the best bits and pieces that we find over this very special time of the year.

Day 1 has got to be about “Janet”.

Janet is the world’s last flying T5 Fairey Gannet (sad face) and in August this year, she’ll be celebrating 60 years since her first flight as a prototype.

Janet’s first public outing was Farnborough in 1954 but she initially started life as a dual control T2.

In 1957, Janet was recalled, rebuilt and used as Fairey Aviation’s prototype new development. Janet had become a T5.

She was sold to the Indonesian Military (but remained in the UK), was reacquired by the British Government where Janet became XT752 until finally the need to restore a Swordfish (pfft!) saw her sent across seas to a new home in the States.

Janet spent some time in climate control before returning to the U.S skies in 2013 and because of this – we salute you XT752!!!



International Fleet Review 2013 – Well Hello Sailor!


Sea Fury flying at the Australian International Airshow in 2011.

Sea Fury flying at the Australian International Airshow in 2011.

Planes and men in uniform is really what this event is for me if I’m honest (sorry David).

The centennial celebration for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is going to be a big one. And I mean BIG!

Apart from the warships which have been amassing on the New South Wales South Coast, this event is going to be avgeek heaven and you might spot Prince Harry if you’re lucky.

I’m kicking myself that I won’t be there to see it in person (hopefully ABC1 will include the flyover in its broadcast), but it doesn’t mean the rest of you have to miss it as well.

Saturday’s event is what I’ll be crying over. A Ceremonial fly past over Port Denison from 11:20 with no less than 39 or so aircraft (and yes I did count what I’ll be missing).

The “Salute to Navy” air display starts at 14:15 when vintage aircraft and newbies will take to the sky around Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Shark Island.

So how low can you go? Well according to the intell, the plane, the plane! (sorry I couldn’t help it) could be as low as 150 metres (500ft in the old language).

An RAAF Orion flies over Felix the Catalia at the Australian International Airshow 2013.

An RAAF Orion flies over Felix the Catalia at the Australian International Airshow 2013.

What will I be missing? Oh only about 50 fixed wing aircraft which includes ‘Felix’ (the Catalina), Connie (the Constellation) and the yet to be named Caribou (all of which belong to HARS – the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society.

Throw into that mix a few vintage helicopters such as the Huey and Kiowa, some of the newbies like the Taipan (MRH-90) and Seahawk and you’ve got yourself a show.

The RAN Historic Flight's UH-1 Iroquois flying at Wings Over Illawarra 2011.

The RAN Historic Flight’s UH-1 Iroquois flying at Wings Over Illawarra 2011.

No word yet if the Sea Fury from Nowra will be flying as part of the display.

Feel free to torture me with your fabulous photos of the event!

I seriously would love to see what I’m missing out on while I’m working at a Festival near Byron Bay. So share via our facebook, twitter or website.

Enjoy avgeek heaven

Rhi – who’s missing one of the avgeek events of the year!

Classic Fighters Airshow, Omaka, New Zealand.




Spitfire Tr.9

Spitfire Tr.9

Classic Fighters is held every two years at Omaka airfield, near Blenheim on the South Island. I’d heard of much about the air show over the years and it had been on my “to do” list for a long time. The reason it’s been on my list is because of the WW1 aircraft that fly there. It’s really the only place, this close to Australia, where you can see these wonderful machines fly.

New Zealand has a vibrant warbird scene and the promise of seeing something that doesn’t fly in Australian skies was a big drawcard as well.

A Chipmunk leads the Fokker D.VII into Omaka.

A Chipmunk leads the Fokker D.VII into Omaka.

We (Rhi and I) arrived in Blenheim early and headed out to the airfield for a scout. We parked near the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (well worth a look) and the first thing I saw was a couple of Fokker Triplanes. Turning my head a Sopwith Pup and Camel came into view. At that point an aero engine drew my attention to the sky and coming in to land with a Chipmunk was another Fokker, this time a D.VII.

I was in heaven but there was still more to come.

Avro Anson being prepared for display

Avro Anson being prepared for display

Looking back towards the museum were two very rare aircraft being prepared for the upcoming display days, an Avro Anson and new build FW-190. I could tell this was going to be no ordinary show and Rhi was already swooning over the Anson (women?!).

The display days were held over the Easter long weekend with Friday being a practice day with an evening show. The Saturday and Sunday were the official display days.

Friday was amazing. It was a cold morning when we set ourselves up near the flight line. Omaka is an all over grass field and the planes were taking off in two directions, with the light WW1 types taking off from our left to right and the heavier types taking off towards us to our right. This format would continue throughout the weekend.

Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel

The day went well with the aircraft flying around but to no particular sequence. There was no ground display (like there would be on the weekend) but that didn’t matter.

A Fokker Dr.1 Dreidecker force landing with a failed engine.

A Fokker Dr.1 Dreidecker force landing with a failed engine.

The WW1 dogfight sequence was truly amazing. Seven Fokker triplanes and the D.VII slugged it out with a Bristol F.2B Fighter, Sopwith Camel, Pups and Triplane and an Airco DH.5.

Watching these small fighters and hearing their engines, especially the Camel’s (as it only had two settings, flat-out and idle) gave us a really good idea of what early aerial combat must have been like. Unfortunately one Fokker Triplane suffered engine failure on Sunday, but the pilot did a great job of getting the aircraft safely down in the middle of all those swirling machines. He did such a good a job I doubt if too many of the crowd actually noticed!

Avro Anson "shooting down" Me-109 (really a Me-108, or Nord

Avro Anson “shooting down” Me-109 (really a Me-108, or Nord

WW2 was widely represented by an assortment of warbirds.

There were two P-40 Kittyhawks, two Yak-3’s, two Spitfire’s, one being a two seater (and yes, you can fly in it – for a price) a P-51 Mustang, an FG-1 Corsair, stacks of Harvards and of course the Anson and FW-190 as mentioned earlier. All the aircraft put on a very lively display (especially the Corsair) and the Anson even shot down a German Me-109 (represented by a Me-108).

Venom and Strikemater

Venom and Strikemaster

There were a number of other vintage aircraft flying over the weekend including a lovely Staggerwing, several de Havilland types such as the Dragon, Gipsy Moth, Tiger Moth, Fox Moth, DHC Chipmunk and Beaver, DC-3’s and a duo of jets in the form of a BAC Strikemaster and a de Havilland Venom. A Stearman also flew paying passengers throughout the weekend and there was an excellent aerobatic display flown in a Pitts Model 12. Formation aerobatics were represented by teams of Harvards and Yak. Both of which were very good.

RNZAF UH-1H Iroquois

RNZAF UH-1H Iroquois

The New Zealand military had four types of helicopter on display; the NH-90, SH-2G Seasprite, the A-109 and the UH-1H Iroquois, which is being phased out.

The RNZAF also sent a B-757. Watching such a large aircraft fly flat-out at very low altitude was rare and appreciated by the crowd. Even the wet Sunday didn’t dampen its display, it just seemed to fly lower!

Omaka was one of the best air shows we’ve been to. It’s well set out, visibility is excellent for the spectator and there’s no particularly bad spot on the flightline. The aircraft are displayed in such a way that it’s a photographer’s paradise. Entry was also pretty reasonable. The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is also a must for everyone regardless of your level of interest in aviation but that’ll be the subject of another post.

I can’t wait for 2015.

Check out our gallery of the 2013 Classic Fighters Airshow below. If you’d like to see more of my photographs, go here.

The Australian International Airshow 2013


This was our third Australian International Airshow together.

It’s become a wedding anniversary tradition for Rhi and I since our wedding in 2010 (which was on an airfield, but that’s another blog post)

The Australian International Airshow is held at Avalon Airport, about 45 minutes drive from Melbourne, from late February until early March (well that was the dates for 2013).

The weather was hot, which was a slight shock to the system after the rain at home in Brisbane, but we adjusted pretty quickly and prepared for some awesome aerial action.

We arrived on the Wednesday before the public days. I was fortunate to fly on the RAAF’s Tanker whilst Rhi had a look around (and saw the F-22A Raptor display. I heard it from inside the KC-30A)

During the trade days, we met crews from the RAAF and USAF. We also caught up with the UK’s  Breitling Wing Walkers who we first saw display at a very wet first public day of the 2012 Farnborough Airshow (just outside of London, UK).

The Breitling Wing Walkers and their Boeing Stearman.

The Breitling Wing Walkers and their Boeing Stearman.

The Breitling Wing Walkers consists of two pilots and three wings walkers. They were in Australia with two modified Boeing Stearman biplanes. Unfortunately on the Wednesday of the Airshow, one of their Stearman’s developed a problem and had to make a precautionary landing.

No one was hurt and there was no damage done to the plane, but it didn’t fly for the rest of the show and they could only do single aircraft displays.

My two favourite moves was the inverted run with the walker appearing to  be right way up and the “Power Pass”. It was all very spectacular and the team were lovely when we met them.

An RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport

An RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport

We caught up with crew from the RAAF KC-30A MRTT. The pilots say that it’s much like flying the standard A330. They even trained in the Qantas simulator before the aircraft arrived. The aircraft gives a great ride and I’m sure it’s good to tank from, in fact a Hornet pilot qualified to tank from the KC-30A was on our flight and said as much.

As a passenger it’s very comfortable and you don’t really notice you’re in a military aircraft (except for all the uniforms around you.

That is, until you see the Hornet slide up along side you.

I spoke to one of the personnel responsible for the tanking. He (or she) never see the aircraft with their own eyes. There is a system of cameras around the aircraft which allow him (or her) to see where the tanking aircraft is and what its doing.

There’s even a 3D system! And yes, it does operate just like a 3D TV does in your living room, glasses and all. It can operate day or night.

I spoke to a C-17A Globemaster III pilot who talked about flying in Australia and around the world. One of the flights that stood out for him was flying into flood ravaged Queensland with a load of toilet paper. Just how much toilet paper a C-17 can carry remains secret…

The USAF Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demo Team.

The USAF Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demo Team.

Rhi spoke to the United States Air Force’s F-16 Pacific Air Force Demonstration Team. They have a very choreographed routine they do before flight. It’s something you don’t see with the RAAF and I’m sure Rhi could have watched this every time the F-16 came in and out of its park.

Apparently, the drill is performed before every flight, for every type of aircraft, except when done at airshows, where it’s done for parade or public display.

It’s certainly worth making the time to watch it if you know that the USAF is in town. The F-22A Raptor has a similar team and ceremony.

There was something for everyone when it came to the flying display. Along with the energy and sounds of the military fast jets like the USAF F-22A Raptor and the RAAF’s F/A-18F Rhino’s, there was also the calmness of the Jet Salto Glider, which, as it sounds, is a glider with a jet. It’s a quiet jet and looks great in the dark looping and rolling with fireworks coming off its wings.

US pilot Skip Stewart flying "Prometheus"

US pilot Skip Stewart flying “Prometheus”

There were a few aerobatics performers this year. Chris Sperou was at Avalon for the final time, and he put on a great display in his very attractive aircraft. The Americans were out in force with Skip Stewart putting on a very low level show – at some times his wheels were hidden by the camber of the runway. He also put on an opposition aerobatics show called “Tinstix of Dynamite” with Melissa Pemberton in her Edge 540.

USAF F-22A Raptor inverted at Avalon13

USAF F-22A Raptor inverted at Avalon13

Then there was the F-22A Raptor which had its first public display at the 2013 show although Rhi and I did get to see a pair of them fly out from the last Avalon in 2011. This jet does things jets shouldn’t do. Like tail slides and fat turns. It really showed what it can do. You could tell when it was about to display as the crowd seemed to swell to double or triple its size just before, and it’s definitely the most people we’ve seen at the Airshow for a particular section of the program.

The Temora Aviation Mueum fighter formation

The Temora Aviation Mueum fighter formation

The Warbirds at the show seemed to be fewer at the 2013 Airshow, but still well represented. The Temora Aviation Museum brought their CA-13 Boomerang, Spitfire Mk.VIII, Meteor F.8 and CA-27 Sabre. The Spitfire had a problem on Friday with no display on the Saturday but was back in the air by Sunday. Seeing these four aircraft in formation is a rare treat, and one we greatly appreciated. Their Lockheed Hudson Bomber also finally got to the show after not being able to land due to the wind.

The RAAF Museum biplane formation

The RAAF Museum biplane formation

The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) based in the Illawarra region of New South Wales had their two DHC-4 Caribou aircraft, one of which flew during the display. The RAAF Museum at Point Cook (just outside of Melbourne) had two formations fly on Sunday. The first, was two DH-82A Tiger Moth’s and a Sopwith Pup with the second containing a single Winjeel with two CT-4 Airtrainers. Unfortunately the wind got in the way of their display earlier in the show.

Other Warbirds up in the air were a  P-40 Kittyhawk and a Mustang.

USAF C-17A Globemaster III

USAF C-17A Globemaster III

There was more military heavy metal in the skies above Avalon and on the ground then we’d seen at any other Avalon we’ve attended.

The USAF and RAAF C-17A Globemaster III’s both put on fantastic displays and Rhi got to speak to one of the USAF C-17A co-pilots. As well as this and the F-22A Raptor, the USAF showed of its F-16. On static display was a MQ-4C Triton model drone (very similar to a Global hawk) among other things.

RAAF F/A-18F Rhino formation team

RAAF F/A-18F Rhino formation team

The RAAF was well represented. There was the C-17A and the Super Hornet or Rhino. The F/A-18F Rhino’s displayed in both a single aircraft handling demonstration and a four ship formation flight. These four also performed an airfield attack, complete with pyrotechnics on the ground. The crowd suitably impressed!

The AP-3C Orion flew showing off its “one engine shut down” party trick. A C-130J Hercules flew down from Richmond, did a couple of passes, a touch and go, and then flew home. There was another in the static park. The Roulettes were there with an awesome display of formation aerobatics, as they always do, and the jet trainer Hawk 127 zipped around. The Hawk is one of my favourite jets to watch. They’re just such little hot rods.

DC-3 Dakota

DC-3 Dakota

A host of older aircraft like the DC-3/C-47 Dakota were also on show, along with a three engined DH Drover, Airvans to name but a few. The staic park was chock full of light aircraft, sports aircraft, Bizjets and, well everything you can think of. There were trade halls, which I must admit I didn’t get to because I was too busy watching the aerial displays so maybe in 2015.

HARS Constellation "Connie"

HARS Constellation “Connie”

I should mention that we had an overseas visitor with us for the first time; our cousin Chris from New Zealand who, like us, absolutely loves aeroplanes.  Chris also has a thing for the HARS Constellation “Connie”.

He was slightly excited that he got to see this magnificent prop airliner fly and even happier that he could get really close to it. His experience at Avalon 2013 was lovely for Rhi and I to see. As New Zealand doesn’t have any fast jets anymore, Chris had never seen, heard, smelt or felt any really up close (he also likes to point out that he’s still an Australian citizen).

The 2013 Australian International Airshow had something for everyone but what I particularly loved was seeing Chris experience something he’d never seen before and the silly grin on his face the entire time that only aviation can bring.

And yeah… his three year old is now going to airfields and getting the aviation bug as well which is great to see.

Here are some of my pictures from the 2013 Australian International Airshow. For my other photographs head here

My flight in an RAAF KC-30A


I’ve seen them fly over my house plenty of times.

It’s so often that I can now tell them by the sound of their engines.

But never did I think I’d be in one or see what I did!

An RAAF KC-30A MRTT flying over my house

An RAAF KC-30A MRTT flying over my house

One of the Royal Australian Airforce’s newest assets and one of its most important is the KC-30A MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport). Based on the successful airliner, the Airbus A330, the tanker is most obviously different by the refuelling points on its wings and under its tail. While the boom (the tail mounted one) isn’t yet operational, the wing mounted pods are and have been refuelling F/A-18A Hornets for around a year. Oh and it’s also painted grey.

As part of the Australian International Airshow, the RAAF decided to introduce this aircraft to the general public and I was fortunate enough to be included as part of the roughly 30 media on the flight. This flight was the first flight in the world to have no defence industry or military personnel on board.

We were shown through the aircraft before the flight and invited into the cockpit as well. It’s just like a standard A330 glass cockpit only it has an extra console behind the pilots where the refuelling is done. The main cabin of the KC-30A is just like a civilian aircraft with the only notable difference the safety instructions which have “RAAF” branding all over them.

We were due to board around midday with the flight departing Avalon around 1:30pm. We headed out over Victoria and at about 15,000ft, the baskets popped out the pods. The Captain told us what was about to happen. Two Hornets would close on us on the left hand side. The KC-30A crew would give them permission to fuel and one would slide to the right hand side while the other remained on the left. I was on the right side.

A few minutes later I could see the nose of a hornet starting to move up to the basket. I had always dreamt of seeing a fighter jet in its element and now at last here it was.

The Hornet plugged in and there was a general media scramble for great pictures. The fighter transferred its fuel and was joined by the second one a few minutes later. We continued along like this for a few minutes before they finished refuelling and flew in formation on the tanker. Wow, what a sight!

The Hornets then broke away and were waiting for us when we finally re-landed.

Refuelling isn’t all this versatile aircraft can do.

It can carry 270 passengers and serve as an airborne medical centre. It carries 139,000 litres of fuel just like a standard A330.

It was an amazing flight and I feel ver privileged to have been invited on this special event to welcome the KC-30A.

A huge thank you to the RAAF, the crew and Eamon Hamilton – Public Affairs for the RAAF  Air Lift Group.