Countdown to Avalon – 2 Days to go.

The second trade day at the Australian International Airshow was hot. Both the weather and the action sizzled. The highlights for me today were the WW! Heroes of the Sky and the Royal Singapore Air Force’s F-16 team, The Black Knights. Continue reading

Countdown to Avalon – 4 Days to Go.

Well, we’re here at Avalon and the trade days start tomorrow. Over the past week or so we’ve looked back at what’s been, but now, what’s ahead at the Australian International Airshow. Continue reading

Countdown to Avalon – 6 Days to Go.

The Australian International Airshow is just around the corner, so in the lead up I’ll be showing you a few of my favourite photographs airshows of the past, and even a couple of what will turn up. Continue reading

Countdown to Avalon – 10 Days to Go.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be showing you a few of my favourite photographs from the Australian International Airshows of the past. Continue reading

Australian Bomber Pilot Still Flying

He might be 96 but Cecil “Boz” Parsons still enjoys flying.

Born in Colac (Victoria), Boz joined the Air Force in August 1940 and up until very recently was still flying solo (he now needs to have his son in his aircraft when he goes up).

Training on Tiger Moths in Narromine before travelling to Canada where he flew Ansons in the middle of winter, 1941, Boz then found himself in England after the last heavy bombing raid on London. 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

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

International Fleet Review 2013 – Well Hello Sailor!

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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!

Finally Visit Australia’s B-24 Liberator.

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Every two years when Rhi and I come down to Victoria for the Australian International Airshow, we always say “we really should go and see the B-24M Liberator at Werribee” but we never seem to get there. But 2013 was different.

The forward fuselage of the B-24 Liberator A72-176

The forward fuselage of the B-24 Liberator A72-176

We ( Rhi, cousin Chris from New Zealand and myself) somehow managed to drive past the hangar on our way to the Airshow one day and noticed a sign advertising extended opening hours because the Airshow was in town.

Our first impression was how huge the hangar was. We’d seen a fully assembled bomber at the RAF Museum in Hendon, London, but this area seemed somewhat more cavernous.

Although it’s too large to fit in the hanger as a whole aeroplane, it still looks very complete.

The engines still need to be fitted, there’s no tail section and only about half of the wings are done. Our guide tells us that to put the wings on would mean it won’t get out of the hangar so that part is being left until it’s ready to move.

A mostly complete forward fuselage lends a lot to this impression of it being mostly finished.

A restored oxygen cylinder the B-24 Liberator A72-176

A restored oxygen cylinder the B-24 Liberator A72-176

The standard of the work on the Liberator is first class. We got to have a look inside the bomb bay, the area leading up to the cockpit and the rear fuselage leading to where the tail gunner would sit. It hardly looks like it’s being restored some 70 years after it was built and looks like it could be on an assembly line awaiting its bits.

The restoration group also has several gun turrets they’re working on including the belly turret, which is interesting as it retracts into the fuselage on takeoff and landing. These turrets are very small and it makes you wonder how men flew and fought in these cramped,  uncomfortable areas.

As well as the Liberator, there are other aircraft parts including an Avro Anson.

There are a lot of opportunities to get “up close and personal” with the Liberator including inside access at various points of your tour. What we loved about the tour was that you were given a very knowledgable volunteer who was only too happy to answer any questions you might’ve had.

The restoration group has heaps of memorabilia that would take days to look at, model aeroplanes and myriad other items of interest (Rhi picked up an original spark plug still in the original packaging).

The hangar has a small shop with a dedicated group of lady volunteers who are very welcoming and helpful. They too, are happy to talk about the history of the bomber.

A huge thanks to everyone at the Werribee hangar for showing us around and being very generous with their time. It’s worth the small entry fee and great to see the passion these volunteers have for Australia’s aviation history.

Here are some more photos of this fabulous restoration: