12 Days of Aircraft – Day 1

Yes it’s finally here!

So what is 12 Days of Aircraft all about I hear you say?

Well each day, we’ll be asking you to vote on your favourite photo out of two options.

A new poll will go up every afternoon and you’ll have 24 hours to vote on each poll.

It’ll all lead to another exciting announcement so get voting!!!

And keep a look out for our Christmas giveaway spectacular (which makes it sound all very impressive).

Until tomorrow,

Rhi and Dave


Denis Baker fondly remembers his time working at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) at Fisherman’s Bend in Victoria.

Continue reading

Coming Up: CanvasWings Ep 10

On CanvasWings this weekend from 6pm:

Warwick Henry talks about his Stinson L-5B Sentinel which saw action in WWII with the U.S Army Air Force.

Take a 360 tour of it below via our instagram or see more pics of the Watts Bridge Fly- In here

And Meet Denis Baker. Former ground and flight test engineer at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC and later Hawker de Havilland Victoria) and find out how he became the “keeper” of an important collection of documents.

Find more on one particular aircraft the CAC built here.



Coming Up: CanvasWings Ep 9

Rhi and Dave in the Brisbane ABC studios.

Rhi and Dave in the Brisbane ABC studios.


Celebrate the 75th Birthday of Wirraway A20-10 at the Australian National Aviation Museum and find more photos of the day here.

The Wirraway's 75th Birthday Cake. (c. David White)

The Wirraway’s 75th Birthday Cake. (c. David White)

Author Kristen Alexander discusses her new book ‘Australia’s Few and the Battle of Britain’.

To listen to the full CanvasWIngs podcast, click here.

Also mentioned:

B-24 Liberator at Werribee in 2013. (c. David White)

B-24 Liberator at Werribee in 2013. (c. David White)

Celebrate the B-24 Liberator’s 70th Birthday at Werribee, near Melbourne, on Sydney September 28. Lots happening, find out more here


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!

A380 History is Made


An Emirates Airbus A380 landing during the types first regular service through Brsibane.

An Emirates Airbus A380 landing during the types first regular service through Brsibane.

“It’s A380 day!”, I suddenly remember, as my sleep is shattered by a 0330 alarm on my mobile phone. An important visitor’s coming to town and I plan to be there when they arrive.

It’s wet and it’s dark but that doesn’t damped the excitement I feel about going to witness a long standing record being broken.

In 1971, the world’s largest passenger jet came to Brisbane.

And it was that type of Jumbo Jet that brought me and my favourite dinosaur undies to Australia from England a couple of years later. I only mention my dinosaur undies because in those days, kids were allowed to visit the cockpit and show the pilot their favourite undies if they felt the need to.

In 2013, the giant A380 takes the title of world’s largest passenger jet and coincidentally, my 5 year old nephew, Harry, has already had his first flight in one, beating me to the punch!

Harry is actually the same age I was when I first flew in a 747. I wonder what his memories will be of that flight? These days kids can’t visit the cockpit and show the pilots their undies, but they still know how to brag about how they beat their avgeek Uncle to flying in A380 first.

The excitement builds builds as we (Rhi and I) find a good spot to watch the first regular A380 flight to Brisbane arrive. We’re over an hour early but we’re not the first there, not by a long way. There’s already about twenty or thirty people around. All with ladders and large lenses for their cameras. Suddenly I feel small and suffer acute lens envy. This often happens at airshows too.

As I watch the aircraft tracking app on my phone, I can see the aircraft approaching Brisbane. I look up from the phone and look in the direction it tells me it is. Off in the far distance I can see a small dot of light. It seems to hang there for an age before growing wings. I zoom in on it.

Yup. That’s it.

A ripple of “there it is” and pointing erupts from the crowd before it settles into relative silence. It’s getting larger now. All you can hear are excited kids and the shutters of a hundred or so cameras.

It’s getting closer… It’s magnificent. A marvel of flight, a feat of engineering. I can hardly imagine how these things get into the air, let alone stay there and fly half way around the world.

The A380 kisses the runway. Up this close, you can really tell how large this thing is. It’s truly enormous! A 737 in front of it looks like a toy. At 72.75m long, the A380 is almost exactly twice the length of what the first flight by the Wright Brothers was.

With the action over for the time being, most people start to leave. I guess to go to work. Some of the more dedicated avgeeks stay around to watch the take off.

It’s a short turn around, only an hour and a half to wait. We run into a mate of ours, another Dave. Another avgeek. He’s got a ladder. He knows all the flight numbers and what types of aircraft fly the routes. This is great because while I’m on the ladder testing it out, a 747 taxis past headed for Dallas. How small the 747 now looks even thought it’s still pretty big

Sorry 747, there’s a bigger boy in town.

What are your memories of your first flight in a large aircraft? I’d love to know.


MOTAT in Auckland, NZ.


After the excitement of The Australian International Airshow and as part of my birthday present, Rhi and I headed over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand for the Classic Fighters Airshow at Omaka.

The only problem (if you could call it that) was we had a few weeks to wait.

Fortunately Chris, the cousin who met up with us at Avalon, invited us to stay at his house in Auckland for a week or so and while there we headed off to the Museum of Transport and Technology, or MOTAT as it’s known.

MOTAT has two sites linked by an old Melbourne tram which is currently on loan.

Site One has the world’s only working steam water pumps, along with a number of vintage trains, cars, historic houses and an Antarctic display featuring Sir Edmund Hillary. Rhi enjoyed looking at all the old fire engines from around the world as well as learning where the 40 hour week came from (yes NZ!)

It would be an understatement to say I was really looking forward to Site Two.

Site Two is where you’ll find the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection. If you don’t know who Sir Keith Park was, he commanded the RAF’s 11 Group of Fighter Command, which was responsible for the defence of London and Southeast England during the Battle of Britain.

The replica Hurricane in front of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection at MOTAT

The replica Hurricane in front of the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection at MOTAT

After a quick 10 minute ride on the tram Rhi and I arrived at the site. It’s huge!A massive hangar with who knows what behind its doors.

After a quick look at the replica Hurricane fighter out front,  we went in. Greeting you is a small shop, the front desk and a Tiger Moth hanging from the ceiling.

I could already tell I was going to like it here.

Going into the main aircraft hall you can’t help but see a Lancaster bomber and an A-4 Skyhawk fighter. These are just the first things you see as the cavernous hangar seems to stretch on forever. And all you can see is aircraft!

The sleeping bag Sir Keith Park's used in WW1 when he was a Major in the RFC.

The sleeping bag Sir Keith Park’s used in WW1 when he was a Major in the RFC.

The RNZAF is well represented from World War 2 until the last of its fighters, the A-4. As well as the main hall there are a number of other areas to explore, like the Fleet Air Arm, Bomber Command and an exhibition on the de Havilland factory which was based in Wellington. Interestingly, Sir Keith’s WW1 sleeping bag is on display at the museum along with his top hat which was used for formal dinners. There’s also a great display dedicated to the first lady of the New Zealand sky, Aviatrix Jean Batten.

The Short S.45 Solent, one of the last of its breed, at MOTAT.

The Short S.45 Solent, one of the last of its breed, at MOTAT.

One aircraft I was really looking forward to seeing was the Short Sunderland. But what I wasn’t expecting, was seeing a Short Solent flying boat.

Short S.45 Solent passenger cabin.

Short S.45 Solent passenger cabin.

This Solent (above) is one of only two left in the world and is currently being restored to the condition it was in when it flew in the 1950’s.

Rhi and I were lucky enough to be invited for a look inside. Rhi particularly liked the sweeping staircase as you got into the plane, the bespoke kitchen cabinets in the galley and the staircase to the upper deck.

The Solent is very complete but has suffered from its time left outside. I wish these remarkable machines were still flying. They have so much more character than modern airliners (in my opinion) and makes me think back to the days when flying was glamourous and people got dressed up to do it!

Ex-RNZAF Short Sunderland being restored outside at MOTAT

Ex-RNZAF Short Sunderland being restored outside at MOTAT

I was still a little disappointed that I had not yet seen a Sunderland, but that soon went when I mentioned I’d come to see it and was told “Oh, yeah, there’s one just out the back there”.

We went outside and there it was. Covered in scaffolding but substantially complete, the flying boat is one of only five complete Sunderland’s left. It will eventually be brought inside.

Also outside was a Dakota, Hudson and Ventura.

The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland is definitely worth the time to go and visit. It’s very easy to get to by public transport (we caught the bus and the driver let us know where to jump of) and its an easy walk once you’re on site. The tram operates every 30 minutes between both sites or you can walk if you feel up to it.

You can find more pictures of MOTAT at the CanvasWings Flickr page.

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.

A Look back at Avalon 2011

With the 2013 show looming, I thought I’d take a look back at some of my highlights from the 2011 Airshow.

The F-22A’s which were there for static display (although we saw them fly out) were in Australia for the first time.This year I’m looking forward to seeing them fly.

A notable 2011 visitor not coming to this show is the B-1B.

2011 had a great variety of warbirds and historic aircraft and it looks like 2013 will be the same. Seeing two DC-3’s flying at the same time is a rare sight. The RAAF always put on a great display and in 2013 I’m sure they’ll do another great job. We’re also looking forward to seeing myriad GA aircraft that are always at Avalon, the pavilions and catching up with Airshow friends.

RAAF E-7A AEW&C Wedgetail A30-004


RAAF E-7A AEW&C Wedgetail A30-004 by CanvasWings

One of the RAAF’s latest acquisitions, the Boeing 737 based aircraft is currently the world’s leading AEW&C aircraft. This year will be the types second visit to the Australian International Airshow held at Avalon every two years.