Sunday, March 1, 2015

CQ Plane Spotting Historic Spot - Farewell to the Red Virgin Blue Colours from Australian Skies

The end of an era last month with the familiar sight of the red Virgin Blue livery disappearing from Australia skies - but hopefully not for good.

VH-VUL arrives in Townsville for repainting  (Photo taken by Dave  ©)

The red colours of Virgin Blue have been in Australian skies since the airline was co-founded by British businessman and founder of parent Virgin Group, Richard Branson, and former Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey. It was established in 2000 with two aircraft operating on a single route.  Virgin Blue's original Boeing B737-400 VH-VGA is pictured below preparing to depart Brisbane Airport in August 2000.

Robert Frola /

After Virgin Blue rebranded to Virgin Australia in May 2011, Townsville-based paintshop Flying Colours has played a significant role in the transformation of the airline from a low-cost-carrier to what it is today. From VH-VUC in December 2013 to VH-VUL in February 2015, the paintshop has removed the prominent Virgin Blue livery on 23 of the 56 aircraft that were repainted after the airline rebranding.

The last repainted aircraft to leave Flying Colours was Boeing 737-800 VH-VUL, which emerged from the hangar on Monday 9 February, re-named 'Ocean Grove Beach', and sporting the Virgin Australia name in silver-grey print on the side of an all-white fuselage.  VH-VUL was then ferried to Brisbane and, significantly for Central Queensland, VH-VUL returned to revenue service with Virgin Australia and immediately called into Mackay as VOZ605 on Tuesday 10 February.

The painting of the last red aircraft into the contemporary Virgin Australia livery signals the completion of the brand repositioning,” Virgin said in a statement.

The Virgin aircraft were painted with what is known as the “base coat, clear coat” process, which required fewer layers of paint and produced a result that was longer lasting and therefore helped reduce maintenance.  “All the logos, all the livery, all the safety placards actually goes on the white base coat and the last thing to be applied is the clear coat which gives everything underneath protection from the elements,” a Flying Colours spokesperson said.

The 11-day painting process for each aircraft required 1200 man hours, 18 painters and 260 litres of paint.

Virgin B737-700 VH-VBZ was also repainted this year  (File photo taken by Dave  ©)

Established in 1985, Flying Colours has also repainted civil and military aircraft for the likes of Airnorth, Qantas, Solomon Airlines, Cobham and the Australian Defence Force.

Sincere thanks Gash M for sharing these awesome images of the repainting of VH-VUL.

Photos taken by Gash Morgan  ©

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday at Rockhampton Airport - Cessna Citation Bizjet VH-KXL - Alliance F-100 VH-FWH - More Helicopters!

Edwards Coaches Cessna 525 Citation CJ1 bizjet VH-KXL was photographed at Rockhampton Airport by local plane spotter Don W on Saturday 28 February.  It called in from Armidale and Tamworth and was believed to have brought Senator Barnaby Joyce to the region to inspect the damage caused by Cyclone Marcia.

VH-KXL later departed Rocky and made the short hop down to Biloela / Thangool Airport before eventually departing back to Tamworth and home to Armidale.

Later at Rockhampton Airport on Saturday 28 February, Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-FWH was noted operating another charter flight from and back to Brisbane as UTY552/553.

Also on Saturday 28 February, Don also captured some more great photos of the visiting helicopters that continue to operate numerous flights out and back from Rockhampton Airport in support of the recovery from Cyclone Marcia.

Thanks to Don for sending through these great photos!

All photo taken by Don Williams  ©

A Few More Photos from Gladstone Airport This Week - Helicopters Galore!

It's been a big and busy week for residents and emergency services around Gladstone and out to the region around Biloela / Thangool in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Marcia.  As a result, several helicopters have been spotted operating out of both Rockhampton and Gladstone Airports during the week - in this post local plane spotters Jamie and Tash share some of their images from Gladstone Airport.

The locally-based Careflight Bell 412EP VH-XCY made several flights between Gladstone and Biloela / Thangool Airport, carrying police and emergency services workers out to the region.

Helicopters that were utilised by Ergon Energy that were involved with power line inspections over the week included Jayrow Helicopters Bell 206B VH-CLV and Theodore-based Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated) Bell 206B (II) VH-JAQ.

Also assisting with the clean-up was M.I. Helicopters Eurocopter AS.355F2 VH-JZX along with Mackay-based Whitsunday Helicopters' Agusta A109E Power VH-KZD.

Calibre Aviation (of Emerald) Aerospatiale AS.350BA VH-WEB was also captured.

And finally, a pair of media choppers were spotted by Jamie and Tash over the week, including Channel 9 (Queensland Television) Eurocopter AS.350B Squirrel helicopter VH-HTV and The Helicopter Service Australia (THS) Aerospatiale AS.350BA Squirrel helicopter VH-THJ which is flying for ABC Television.

Aside from the helicopters, a couple of nice bizjets called into Gladstone Airport this week, including Marcplan Charter Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy VH-VLT on Wednesday 25 February.

Earth Commodities Cessna 550 Citation Bravo bizjet VH-CCJ was also noted at Gladstone Airport on Thursday 26 February.

Finally, light General Aviation (GA) visitors featured the visit by Avcair (Sutherland Aviation) Raytheon B300 Super King Air VH-WXC on Wednesday 25 February, while on Tuesday 24 February, Seair Cessna 208 Caravan VH-LMZ made a surprise visit for fuel before departing to the South.

A great week of plane spotting at Gladstone Airport - although this was brought about by a rather unfortunate circumstance.  We do hope that the recovery from Cyclone Marcia continues well for all those that have been affected.

Sincere thanks to Jamie and Tash for sending through these fantastic photos!

Photos taken by Jamie and Tash  ©

A Few More Great Photos from Rockhampton Airport Over This Last Week - Helicopters - Bizjets - And an Orion!

Over the last week, we've reported and posted (on our Facebook page) on several movements to pass through Rockhampton Airport that have been associated with the clean-up in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Marcia which passed through the region only a week ago.

Last Saturday 21 February, an unknown Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed AP-3C Orion was spotted in the skies above Rocky conducting an aerial survey of the damage.  The Orion was heard to use the radio callsign of "Sealion 44" and reportedly flew up from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia and eventually landed at Townsville.

During this last week, the Queensland Government Airwing (State of Queensland) Raytheon Hawker 850XP bizjet VH-SGY and Raytheon B300 Super King Air VH-SGQ have been noted at Rocky pretty much every day - including last Saturday 21 February when local plane spotter Ben O captured these images.

Another bizjet in the form Jet City (Melbourne) Learjet 45 VH-LJX was also spotted on Sunday 21 February, while, as posted below, Execujet Australia (Careflight Queensland) Bombardier CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 bizjet VH-URR was joined by RAAF Boeing B737-7DF(BBJ) A36-002 and Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 A37-001 all touched down on Thursday 26 February.  It's also worth noting that the Queensland Police Service (Airwing) Cessna 560 Citation Ultra bizjet VH-PSU has also been a frequent visitor this week.

There have also been a wide range of helicopters to be noted and spotted at Rockhampton Airport, flying sorties all over the region, and down to Gladstone and out to Biloela / Thangool Airport and nearby towns.  The following choppers were spotted at Rockhampton Airport on Sunday 21 February, Monday 22 February, Thursday 26 February and Friday 27 February.

Now despite most of the Rockhampton plane spotters not having power for most of this week, we sincerely thank them for all their efforts in taking these great photos and for taking the time to send them through to share with you.

Thanks guys!

Photos taken by Kayanne Hardsman, Ben O'Dowd, Trevor Hardsman and 'IAD'  ©