The US and Australian Defence Forces continue to participate in Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011 under perfect Rockhampton skies. Local spotters at Rockhampton Airport also continue to enjoy the perfect weather and we thank them for providing some of the following information and pictures.
Wednesday 20 July turned out to be a relatively quiet day, with the majority of movements again being from Australian Army Eurocopter EC665 (ARH) Tiger and Sikorsky S70A-9 Blackhawk helicopters, as well as Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Westland Mk.50A Sea King sorties to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
Of the American forces, United States Navy (USN) Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk - 163240 - of the HSL-51 Unit visited Rockhampton again as "Warlord 710".
And United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lockheed KC-130J, 167983 (Tail Code QD-983) of the VMGR-152 Unit, popped in once again from the North.
An interesting non-military visitor was Eclipse EA500 bizjet registered N580WC. The aircraft is owned and operated out of Archerfield Airport in Brisbane by the Wanless Enviro Services Corporation.
On Thursday 21 July, Rockhampton Airport's security fence was breached by a protestor who cut his way through a gate, and gained access to the Australian Army helicopter parking area. He was then alleged to have used a garden mattock or axe to cause damage to one of the parked Eurocopter Tiger helciopters.
Local spotters report that the damaged chopper could be A38-006.
Notable movements on Thursday included United States Navy (USN) Sikorsky SH-60F Oceanhawk - 164081 - of the HSL-51 VIP 7th Fleet was noted flying as "Blackbeard 01".
This is the sister-helicopter to USN Sikorsky Oceanhawk 164446 which flew into Rockhampton Airport on Tuesday as "Blackbeard 02". Both choppers are from the USN ship "USS Blue Ridge".
Another USN visitor was Lockheed C-130T Hercules 165158 (tail code CW-158) of the VR-54 Unit, arrived as "Convoy 7142".
Also paying another visit - almost a daily routine now - was United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lockheed KC-130J, 167983 (Tail Code QD-983) of the VMGR-152 Unit, this time as "Sumo 81".
Also noted was Aerorescue (AMSA - Australian Maritime Safety Authority) Dornier 328-100 VH-PPV, which is operated by Aero Pearl, arrived and departed to sea as "Rescue 441".
Lastly, as Virgin Australia B737-700, VH-VBF arrived in the late afternoon from Brisbane, the Rockhampton Airport Tower Controller noticed a large amount of smoke coming from the left main landing gear during its landing roll-out. The B737 was just beginning to exit the runway when the controller instructed it to hold position. As pictured below, two fire tenders were dispatched and it was some minutes before the B737 was cleared to taxi to the apron, with the fire tenders following closely behind.