Taking Flight: Lores Bonney’s Extraordinary Flying Career

Author, Kristen Alexander and her new book, 'Taking Flight: Lores Bonney's Extraordinary Flying Career'

Author, Kristen Alexander and her new book, ‘Taking Flight: Lores Bonney’s Extraordinary Flying Career’

Canberra based author, Kristen Alexander recently dropped by to show us her new book which has taken a lot of research and one that she has been trying to finish around the release of other work for the last couple of years. Continue reading

Keeping Aviation History Alive in Rathmines

Catalina Flying Boats used to be a common sight anchored off Rathmines on the western side of Lake Macquarie.

By 1941, it was the largest RAAF flying boat base in the southern hemisphere, which probably explains why it’s still considered the home of the Catalina. Continue reading

CanvasWings EP 11 – Kevin Weldon and Penny Furner

Aircraft collector and enthusiast, Kevin Weldon AM has been an avid aviator for 40 years.

His publishing career began while he was serving in the navy and he’s gone on to publish many books as well as an iPad app.

Kevin discusses his unique private aircraft collection which is based at Luskintyre in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.

Photographed here at the Luskintyre Airfield (NSW) in front of the Nancy Bird Walton Memorial Tower dedicated to his late friend and aviatrix. Photo: David White

Photographed here at the Luskintyre Airfield (NSW) in front of the Nancy Bird Walton Memorial Tower dedicated to his late friend and aviatrix.
Photo: David White

What do you know about the largest WWII RAAF flying boat base in the southern hemisphere?

Well meet Penny Furner – President of the Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Association and someone who spent her early years living at the base on the shores of Lake Macquarie in New South Wales during the 1950s.

Penny talks about why the annual Rathmines Catalina Festival is working hard to preserve the history of the base and educate the wider community about its importance. Continue reading


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


Australia’s Few and The Battle of Britain

It was a battle fought entirely in the air and the defeat of the Luftwaffe by “The Few” was a turning point in World War II.

But what do we know about the Australians who were also involved in this major battle? Continue reading

Airmen the Focus of New Stage Play

An avgeek from an early age, Comedian Michael Veitch has always been fascinated by the airmen of World War II.

Signing books at the Queensland Air Museum recently.

Signing books at the Queensland Air Museum recently.

Veitch is already the author of two best-selling books, Flak and Fly which tell the true stories from the men who flew.

Flak took Veitch a year to interview over 50 RAAF veterans across Australia with some never speaking of these stories to their own families.

Now some of these stories have become the centre piece of Veitch’s one man play of the same name.

“One of the first stories I included in the show, is a guy called Bruce Clifton who was a Lancaster pilot shot down by the Swedes cos he strayed into neutral Sweden and some anti aircraft shells hit the bomb bay of his Lancaster” says Veitch.

“It exploded and he was sort of blown out of it, totally unscathed. The aircraft disintegrated around him. He sort of came to, falling down through the wreckage of his aircraft, wondering where he was and thought ‘I should pull the parachute maybe’ and he did.

The rest of the crew were killed and he was the sole survivor, totally unscathed. Never told anyone about it, even his own family but he told me for some reason”.

Veitch recently bought his one man performance to Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast but is planning a much bigger tour in 2015.

“Next year we hit the big time and it’s an extensive tour right through regional Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania”.

Find out more at Flak

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!

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