Monday, July 16, 2012

Hamilton Island Airport and Whitsundays Weather Diversions and Other Happenings Last Week

Jimi L has sent through a great report and photos of the weather diversions and happenings in the Whitsundays over the last week.  He reports that the weather in the latter part of the week especially has caused 'chaos' with cloud hovering at about 200 feet preventing very few flights to and from the Whitsundays from operating normally.  Here is a summary of the chaos - particularly at Hamilton Island Airport:

On Tuesday 10 July:
QF 2503 CNS-HTI Returned to CNS
DJ 1497 BNE-HTI Diverted to TSV before returning to HTI late in the evening
JQ 846 SYD-HTI Returned to SYD

On Wednesday 11 July:
Qantaslink operated 2 flights (QF 2503 and QF 2505) CNS-HTI one operated by a DH8C and a DH8B
Virgin Australia operated an additional BNE-HTI rotation as DJ 9801/DJ 9802
Jetstar operated an additional SYD-HTI rotation as JQ 7846/JQ 7849

On Thursday 12 July:
QF 2503 CNS-HTI Returned to CNS
JQ 860 MEL-HTI Diverted to TSV before returning to MEL as JQ 7981
DJ 1281 SYD-HTI Diverted to TSV
DJ 1497 BNE-HTI Returned to BNE
JQ 846 SYD-HTI Returned to SYD
DJ 1113 BNE-PPP Diverted to TSV before returning to PPP as DJ 5113 then ops normal albeit delayed significantly

On Friday 13 July:
QF 2503 CNS-HTI Cancelled
JQ 860 MEL-HTI Returned to MEL via BNE
DJ 1281 SYD-HTI got to about the QLD border and returned to SYD
JQ 852 BNE-HTI Cancelled
DJ 1497 BNE-HTI Cancelled
JQ 846 SYD-HTI Cancelled
Additional rotation JQ 7406 SYD-HTI Returned to SYD
PPP ops normal
Jetstar operated charter JQ 7407 PPP-MEL

Lastly, on Saturday 14 July
Jetstar operated an additional SYD-HTI rotation as JQ 7302/JQ 7303
Otherwise operations were normal - and by afternoon every Airport seemed to back to normal.

Despite the wet weather and low cloud, Jimi has spotted a few interesting movements.  On Sunday 8 July, an unidentified Army Sikorsky S-70A-9 Blackhawk helicopters flew to Airlie Beach and then flew low and slow along the main strip, before it departed North. Jimi managed a quick snap from his balcony!

On Wednesday 11 July, an unidentified Australian Army Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopter flew low level past Shute Harbour Airport and then tracked North. 

On Thursday 12 July, a nice pair of Squirrel helicopters arrived at the Whitsunday Airport.  Kareela Aviation / Lake Macquarie Helicopters in New South Wales Aerospatiale AS.350BA VH-BUK and Choppair Helicopters in Victoria Aerospatiale AS.350BA VH-EFT arrived together from Townsville.

Of interest, VH-EFT (c/n 1728) was once a part of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a part of the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU).  It wore the military serial number of A22-002.

Both helicopters overnighted and attempted to depart South on the over the next two days, but returned on both occasions to the Whitsunday Airport shortly after taking off. The helicopters had reportedly previously been operating in Papua New Guinea.

Lastly, whilst at Hamilton Island Airport on Saturday 14 July - finally Jimi was able to operate a passenger transfer there from the Whitsunday Airport - a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed C-130-J-30 Hercules performed a spectacular touch-and-go.  After departing the Hamilton Island Airport, it was noted heading to Whitehaven Beach and then Hayman Island, before returning to Hamilton Island Airport where it performed a second touch-and-go before departing. 

Jimi did a pretty good job with the IPhone!

One final photo Jimi sent through is from the Whitsunday Airport at Shute Harbour.  While plane spotting was a bit difficult this week with all the cloud and mist disrupting most aircraft movements, the wet weather did bring out other visitors to the airport, with the local curlews noted amongst the aircraft!

Thanks Jimi - maybe CQ Bird Spotting will take off soon!

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