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 →
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
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
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:
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
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.
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.