Countdown to Avalon – 9 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

Countdown to Avalon – 14 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

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

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

The “first flight” of CanvasWings on the airwaves

Andrew Carter flying the TAVAS Fokker Dr.1 Triplane.

Andrew Carter flying the TAVAS Fokker Dr.1 Triplane.

CanvasWings has debuted on ABC Digital Radio. The program will be able to be heard every four weeks at 1805 AEST and on podcast,

This program features the Royal Australian Air Force’s Air Commodore Phil Byrne talking about the Centenary of Military Aviation airshow at Point Cook, Andrew Carter from The Australian Vintage Aviation Society about his new flying Fokker Dr.1 Triplane and the first in a series looking at the wartime life of Colin Moreton, a P-40 Kittyhawk pilot.

If you missed it live you can find it here

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:

My flight in an RAAF KC-30A

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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.

Avalon Airshow Practice at RAAF Amberley.

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An RAAF Super Hornet flying its practice display for the 2013 Australian International Airshow

An RAAF Super Hornet flying its practice display for the 2013 Australian International Airshow

It didn’t look like much practice would happen today with the rotten weather over Ipswich, however by late morning I could hear the Super Hornets (or Rhino’s) taking off. I took this to mean I should head up to one of my favourite spotting areas, the water tower. From up there you can see for miles and it’s totally safe being the local lookout.

I waited up there for a couple of hours, saw two Rhinos return and later got a surprise visit when a Beechcraft AT-6 Texan II flew over and did a few circuits. This aircraft is American registered and is in Australia for the show.

In the early afternoon the sound of a Super Hornet in afterburner tore through the air and up one came for it’s practice run. It was a good display, with plenty of tight turns and rolls, although a little short. I’m looking forward to seeing the four ship formation – and being a little closer than the water tower!

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.