Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PNG visitors through CQ Airports this week

A Columbia Helicopters (PNG) Boeing Vertol 234UT helicopter registered P2-CHJ arrived in Rockhampton from Brisbane on Sunday 20 June. It departed the next day for Mackay, then Townsville and Cairns, before eventually heading to Port Moresby.

Also a Pacific Aerospace 750XL, registered P2-SDE, is expected to pass through Rockhampton Wednesday 23 June for fuel while on a trip from Redcliffe to Townsville.

Mackay bound jet returns to Brisbane

A Virgin Blue Embraer E-190 jet carrying 69 passengers and crew to Mackay had to turn back to Brisbane on Monday 22 June, after reports of a loss of cabin pressure. The flight returned to Brisbane at noon. It is believed oxygen masks were deployed in the plane but were not used.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Clermont Gold Campdraft Visitors

With the Clermont Gold Campdraft being held in town this weekend, a number of visiting aircraft were noted early Saturday 19 June 2010.

Pictured are GB Helicopters (Clermont) R22 VH-CSI and Central Park Helicopters (Springsure) R22 VH-PUG both parked at the Clermont Showgrounds; and Cobb Cattle Co (Clermont) Cessna 172 VH-MPK parked at Clermont Aerodrome.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blackwater Airport to close - QantasLink to suspend operations

The Blackwater Airport will close to the public from mid-August because not enough people are using it. All scheduled QantasLink services will be cancelled, and ticketed passengers forced to fly from Emerald, a 45min drive away.

The airport is privately owned by BMA, a subsidiary of the BHP Billiton, which in a statement said that "because of poor patronage, operation of the airport could no longer be justified".

The Airport will however remain open to emergency medical users such as the Royal Flying Doctor Serivce.

The Central Highlands Regional Council has said will not be buying or taking control of the Blackwater airport.

Miners who fly in from Brisbane for work are worried about how they will get to work. The closest airports are at Emerald and Rockhampton.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Crash of a B-17C Flying Fortress at Bakers Creek near Mackay, Qld, on 14 June 1943

During the Second World War, the United States Army Air Corps established rest and recreation facilities in Mackay Queensland, Australia. From the end of January 1943 until early 1944, thousands of United States servicemen were ferried almost daily from New Guinea to Mackay by air transport to spend around 10 days R&R. They were usually carried by two B-17 Flying Fortresses converted for transport duties and an LB-30 (civil transport version of the B-24 Liberator bomber), stationed in Mackay with the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron, whose parent Unit was stationed in Townsville, Queensland.

On Monday 14 June 1943, just before dawn, at about 6 a.m., Boeing B-17C, Serial/Tail Number 40-2072, known as "Miss Every Morning Fixin", took off from Mackay headed for Port Moresby. There were six crew and 35 passengers aboard. A few minutes after take-off, it crashed, at Bakers Creek, 8km South of Mackay, killing all but one of those on board.

The sole survivor was Foye Kenneth Roberts who died at Wichita Falls, Texas on 4 February 2004.

The cause of the crash remains a mystery. The aircraft took off into fog and, soon after, made a turn at low altitude. The crash remains Australia's worst air disaster.

A memorial was constructed in Bakers Creek in 1981 consisting of two brick columns aligned northwards on which are mounted flag poles and two brass plaques facing eastwards. Between the columns is a large aircraft propeller of a type fitted to Douglas C-47/DC-3/Dakota airplanes that was supplied by the Royal Australian Air Force. The plaques describe the crash and list the men known to have perished as well as the sole survivor. Fixed above the propeller is a bronze model of a Flying Fortress aircraft that was added on 13 June 2003.

Another memorial located behind the Australian embassy in Washington D.C. commemorates the accident. Because embassies are considered foreign soil, the Bakers Creek Memorial Association petitioned American lawmakers to relocate the memorial. After several years of negotiation, a dedication ceremony took place 11 June 2009 at the memorial's new home just northwest of the Selfridge Gate in Fort Myer, Virginia.

More information can be found at Peter Dunn's Australia At War website (

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mackay Plane Crash Tribute 50 Years On

Today is the 50th anniversary since the TAA Fokker F27 Friendship VH-TFB "Abel Tasman" crashed into the sea on Friday June 10 1960, while on approach to Mackay Airport. It stands as Australia’s worst commercial air disaster.

It was on an evening flight from Brisbane to Mackay when it crashed. 29 people – including a number of local schoolboys returning home for the Queens Birthday long weekend – were on board.

There was heavy fog and the plane’s first attempt at landing had to be aborted. Friends and families had been watching the plane circle when, at 10.05pm, the Fokker disappeared into the sea just off Far Beach.

This was the first crash of a TAA aircraft involving paying passengers.

VH-TFB was the flagship of their Fokker F27 Friendship fleet. This aircraft was delivered to TAA about ten weeks before VH-TFA.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Longreach Aerodrome Visitors on Monday

Two interesting visitors were noted at Longreach Airport on Monday 7 June 2010.

PC-12/47 VH-WPH of Argyle Charter (Brisbane) arrived in the afternoon.

Cessna 650 Citation VH-DHN of Business Aviation Solutions (Wangi Wangi, NSW) later arrived on dusk. This bizjet was noted later that night at Brisbane.

Local Recreational Aircraft at Emerald Airport

Pictured are four of no fewer than a dozen various RA-Aus registered aircraft parked and hangared on the Northern side of Emerald Airport. These were spotted on Monday 7 June. These aircraft are easily seen from the roadside, and speaking to a local operator can often achieve airside access for that ‘closer’ look.

Revised Toll Express Freighter Services for CQ Airports

Toll Express has revised their Emerald TFX109/110 metroliner freight service. This previously originated in Mackay. It now only operates Emerald-Thangool-Brisbane and return departing Emerald in the early evening, and then arriving in Emerald around 8am the next morning. This service operates Monday to Friday. Pictured below is Toll Express Metro III Expeditor VH-UZI on the ground in Emerald on Monday 8 June.

Central Airlines PA-34s VH-MSR and VH-AMJ service the smaller centres of Barcaldine/Longreach and Dysart on behalf of Toll and meet up with the metro in Emerald.

This leaves Toll Express with the TFX129/130 freight run from Mackay to Brisbane and return. This service originates in Western Queensland, before eventually arriving in Mackay around 8pm. It then returns to Mackay from Brisbane early the next morning, before continuing out West.

Toll Express has also started a Monday to Friday freight run from Rockhampton to Brisbane and return. The TFX134/135 service, also operated by a metroliner, leaves Rockhampton in the early evening before arriving back the next morning.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

CQ Rescue at Clermont Hospital

Late in the afternoon of Saturday 5 June, Bell 412 VH-NSV of the RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter Service landed and dropped a stretcher and paramedics to Clermont Hospital. By the time I could get a photo, it was already lifting off and flew off to the North-East.

Emerald Airport Terminal Redevelopment

Visiting Emerald Airport on Saturday 5 June, I observed that Stage 1 of the alterations and additions to the Emerald Airport Terminal are now complete. Six new check-in counters, airline offices, pilot crew room and baggage conveyor system are now in operation. QantasLink are utilising three of the counters (as shown below).

Passengers are still arriving and departing from the ‘old’ terminal (pictured below). To the left of the terminal in this photo is an open fence line where photos can be had over the terminal apron, Central Airlines aircraft parking apron, and further to the runways.

Inside the ‘old’ terminal, is a glassed-off observation area that has similar views (photos below with Central Airlines PA-31s VH-FWJ, VH-NWN, VH-BCQ, plus other aircraft parked on their apron, and QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 VH-QOT parked and preparing for departure to Brisbane).

Stage 2 works will include construction of a new departure lounge, Qantas Club lounge and additional toilet facilities and are anticipated to be completed and in use during August. Stage 3 works will commence in August and include extensions within the ‘old’ terminal to the existing kiosk and rental car kiosk areas, expansion of the arrivals lounge and installation of a baggage collection carousel.

The cost of this project is approx $7,700,000 with $2,000,000 funding being provided by the Queensland State Government under the Rural Living Infrastructure Program.

Also, last year the public car park, located directly in front of the terminal building, was significantly expanded and became a pay car park. There is no charge for the first 1 hour use of the public car park and there are two automatic payment machines located on site.

The Central Highlands Regional Council owns and operates the Emerald Airport which is located approx 6km south of the Emerald along the Gregory Highway (Springsure Road).

Regular QantasLink RPT services fly in and out of Emerald with 27 services per week. Virgin Blue have been long rumoured to be starting flights in and out of Emerald, but the lack of baggage and passenger screening, as well as a runway that is too narrow, are currently preventing scheduled services from starting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

CQ Airports FIFO Timetable

From what I have heard and seen (and very much subject to change)...

Regional Express (REX) operates 4 return flights a week with Pel-Air Metro VH-KDO from Brisbane to the following CQ mining towns...
- Moranbah on Monday morning returning back to Brisbane on Tuesday morning from Middlemount
- Emerald twice a week Tuesday night and wednesday morning.
- Middlemount Friday morning

Central airlines operate 2-3 flights a week Brisbane-Hervey Bay-Emerald, as well as 4-5 flights a week Mackay-Clermont-Mackay, both with PA-31 equipment.

General Aviation Maintenance (GAM) operate Brisbane-Chinchilla flights 10 times a week with Dornier DO-228 aircraft (VH-VJD).

Great Western Aviation (GWA) operate numerous flights via Brisbane, Toowoomba and Roma to various towns in CQ with their fleet of PA-31's and B200.

If you read this and know something more... please leave a comment!!

Clermont Aerodrome Tuesday 1/6

The video below shows Skytrans Dash-8 VH-QQE departing Clermont for Brisbane early Tuesday 1 June, while Dash-8 VH-QQG is parked waiting for its pax to arrive before also departing for Brisbane. This is the view for spotters from the fence-line at the airport!!