Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CQ Plane Spotting Special Post - 2013 The Year in Review at Rockhampton Airport - January to June

For the end of his first full year with as a contributor to the CQ Plane Spotting Blog, local plane spotter 'IAD' has put together 'The Year in Review' of what has been spotted at Rockhampton Airport during 2013. We hope you enjoy...

January started with a series of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) visits with multiple Airbus A330-203 / KC-30A (MRTT) aircraft touching down to conduct crew changes, as well as Boeing C-17A Globemaster III missed approaches.

The end of January, Qantas Airways Boeing B737-800 VH-VXE, which was operating flight QF974 flying from Brisbane to Townsville, was forced to divert to Rockhampton Airport and conduct an emergency landing due to a cabin pressure issue.

On Tuesday 29 January, Rockhampton Airport actually had two Qantas B737-800s on the ground at once, with VH-VZZ ferrying in to complete the QF974 service during that evening.

Australia Day saw record rain falls around the region with the Rocky Airport being shut for one day in early February due to part the runway being underwater near the Southern end.

As numerous roads were closed, it was helicopter-city at Rockhampton Airport, ferrying people to and from work at Gracemere and neighbouring properties. The first flight back into Rocky when the Airport re-opened was a QantasLink Dash-8-Q300 from Mackay.

Pel-Air SAAB 340A Freighter VH-EKT was broken down for a few days due to a hydraulic fluid leak during mid-February.

March saw more RAAF action with more KC-30A / MRTT missed approaches.  Also, the new air traffic control tower at Rockhampton Airport was officially opened on Friday 8 March by the Federal Member for Capricornia, Kirsten Livermore and Airservices Australia Chief Executive Officer, Margaret Staib.

Finally, Virgin Australia announced that direct jet services between Rockhampton and Sydney would cease at the end of April.

April started with yet more RAAF action with a few Boeing B737-7ES / E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft and C-17A Globemaster III visits.

April also signalled the start of the advanced parties for upcoming joint Australian / American military exercise Talisman Saber 2013 (TS13), with visits from United States Air Force (USAF) Beech C-12J Huron 86-0082 and Dornier C-146A 10-3077.

Near the end of April, Australian Army Commonwealth CA-32 (Bell 206B/OH-58A) Kiowa helicopters were spotted visiting, along with RAAF Canadair Challenger 604 A37-002.

Finally, at the end of April, Gulfstream G-IV N524AN and Bombardier Challenger 604 VH-EVJ touched down at Rockhampton Airport, bringing Australian golfer Greg Norman, and other representatives who were to travel to Great Keppel Island where Tower Holdings are developing a new resort.

May signalled the build up to TS13 with numerous visits into Rocky by various Australian Army Helicopters - Tigers, Blackhawks and MRH90’s - along with numerous RAAF King Air turbo-prop arrivals.

Rockhampton also had a visit by a pair of Grey RAAF Pilatus PC-9/A trainer aircraft, which did markings up at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA).

Near the end of May, Rocky played host to six Royal Australian Navy (RAN) helicopters - four Aerospatiale AS350B Squirrel choppers and two of the RAN's newer Bell 429 choppers.

There were also yet more RAAF jets that conducted missed approaches during May.

Finally, Clive Palmer popped into Rocky right at the end of May, and CQ Plane Spotting was lucky to be the first publish photos of 'Palmer United Party' colour scheme which adorned his bizjet - Global Express M-ATAR.

The biggest news for Rockhampton Airport in June was the introduction of 'Rocky Approach' on 123.75.  This essentially saw Rockhampton airspace with the associated Control Area Steps now active 24-hours-a-day.

There was yet more build-up to TS13 in June with more Army helicopters and RAAF King Air aircraft visiting, along with the usual RAAF C-17A Globemaster III missed approaches.

In the middle of June, Crown Gulfstream G-V bizjet VH-CCC paid Rockhampton a visit.

Finally, one of the more unusual sites was Aviation Utilities / Geotech Airborne Eurocopter AS.350B3 Squirrel helicopter VH-VTX which was photographed towing a massive airborne electromagnetic receiver coil.

My sincere thanks to 'IAD' for compiling this great article and sending it through.

The second part of 'The Year in Review' from July to December was a particularly busy period with both Military Exercise Talisman Saber 2013 and the Singapore Armed Force's Exercise Wallaby 2013 seeing Rockhampton Airport playing a significant supporting role. 

Photos taken by ‘IAD’  ©

No comments:

Post a Comment