Ghost tour with Aviation twist!!

Most aviation museums probably don’t offer a tour like this but on the north east coast of England you’ll find a ‘ghost watch’ at a small but important air museum. Continue reading

THE EX-CAC FLIGHT TEST ENGINEER TURNED ARCHIVIST

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

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Aviation: The Invisible Highway – Coming Soon

Aviation: The Invisible Highway is an upcoming documentary IMAX movie which is due for release in 2015.

Directed by Brian J. Terwilliger and narrated by Actor, Harrison Ford, the documentary explores how flight has changed the world.

Filmed in 18 countries and seven continents, it looks at how in a single century, flying became a reality.

With over 50,000 routes between any two points, how many of us give it another thought when we hop on an aircraft to travel somewhere?

According to the filmmaker, no CGI was used in the making of it and I’ve got to say, I’m pretty amazed at the footage.

If the trailer is anything to go by it’s beautifully shot and I hope it does make it to Australian shores.

Enjoy the trailer! (Rhi)

 

 

 

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 #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!

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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!

Visiting Miss Piggy.

C-46 Commando "Miss PIggy"

C-46 Commando “Miss PIggy”

“Miss Piggy” is a C-46 Commando transport aircraft which crashed shortly after departing Churchill, Canada, in 1979. Operated by Lamb Air, it was named “Miss Piggy” because of all the freight the plane could carry and it even flew pigs.

As part of a once in a lifetime trip, my friend Peter Barnes visited Churchill and Miss Piggy in July 2013 and he was kind enough to share his thoughts and some pictures with us. In Peter’s words.

“The town is an historic trading post on the coast of Hudson Bay in Manitoba and it’s about as far north as it’s possible to go without a pack of sled dogs. It has no roads going into it and I travelled up from Winnipeg on a 36 hour sleeper train that is furnished with lovely 1950’s rolling stock, friendly staff and a limitless supply of hot pancakes.

The journey was hypnotising: I saw a landscape that gradually changed from arable land through boreal forests and finally into arctic tundra. They say that you need two trees to make a Christmas tree in Churchill: the wind from the north bears down so hard that the stunted trees only grow branches on one side! Even the train has to bow to the environment: the lines are built on constantly shifting permafrost and it has to travel slowly to avoid de-railing.

Once we were settled into our accommodations we began to explore the sights and stories and the wildlife of this most unusual town. We approached the wreck of Miss Piggy from a dirt track and our driver pulled a few wide circles round the trees and sounded the horn continuously for about 20 seconds. “Can’t be too careful” he said, “she’s quite popular with polar bears!” These magnificent animals come inland during the summer looking for shade after the sea ice has melted and I can see why a large aluminium tube might be an attractive option.

I might have dismissed the warning as theatrics had it not been for a close shave the previous morning. We had taken a short walk down to Churchill’s beach – only just outside the built-up area of the town – and we spent a few minutes watching the beautiful beluga whales out in the bay. But then we suddenly became aware that we were being stalked: a polar bear maneuvered itself into a position downwind and was stealthily exiting the sea towards us no more than 200m away. They say that the one thing you should not do when faced with a polar bear is to run, but I can tell you we made for a pretty darn fast walk! There really are polar bears, and you really do have to take them seriously.

Once we were sure that we weren’t going to end up as an in-flight snack on board Miss Piggy, we began exploring. It is a sight like nothing else, a moment frozen in time. It was too remote for the airframe ever to be salvaged and it continues to sit there, forever a testament to a successful emergency landing. The cargo has gone, as has one of the engines and the contents of the instrument panel. But other than that, it’s pristine and you could imagine it happened yesterday. Broken trees poke out from underneath the wings where they were snapped off. Dents and rips in the plane’s skin match up with lumps and bumps on the huge boulders that sit underneath. Considering what rough terrain this is, it’s amazing that the plane landed in one piece and that the crew survived. Everywhere there are signs of movement halted abruptly. An engine sits where it came to rest a few metres in front of the wing. A prop with bent tips lies half submerged in a pool of water. And the positions of the control surfaces, half shredded but still intact, record the last flight inputs made by the pilots.

What a dramatic night that must have been.”

My thanks to Peter for his words and photographs. All photographs are copyright Peter Barnes and are used with permission.

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

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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.