Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Some Plane Spotting Photos from Emerald Airport on Monday and Tuesday Afternoons

Due to having car repairs, I ventured to Emerald on both Monday 29 August and Tuesday 30 August and managed to make it Emerald Airport and capture some of the evening action.

On Monday 29 August, I was quite happy to capture a pair of Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 jets - one of which was a newie for me!  F-70 VH-QQX was photographed departing Emerald Airport for Brisbane operating on behalf of Virgin Australia as VOZ1266.

A little later - and at just about 'last light' - fellow Alliance F-70 VH-NKU touched down at Emerald Airport operating a Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO charter flight from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast as UTY4078.

This was the first time I've properly seen and been able to photograph VH-NKU (c/n 11555) since it was delivered to Alliance Airlines in June 2015.  VH-NKU made at least one visit to Emerald in 2015 before then heading to Western Australia and operating out of Perth until May this year when it moved to Adelaide before returning to Brisbane.  Of interest, VH-NKU had previously been operated by Austrian Airlines as OE-LFK. 

Also on Monday 29 August, I photographed Toll Freight Aviation / Toll Express Metro III VH-UZW which departed to Rockhampton and Brisbane as TFX111.

Back at Emerald Airport on Tuesday 30 August, I photographed Toll Freight Aviation / Toll Express Metro III VH-UZP in company with General Aviation Maintenance (GAM) AeroCommander 500-S VH-YJM which is currently based at Emerald Airport operating the Western freight run to Barcaldine and Longreach on a week-daily basis.

Around on the General Aviation (GA) Apron on Tuesday 30 August was SOCATA TBM-850 VH-KOF which had earlier arrived from Townsville.  It departed to Maitland (New South Wales) on Wednesday 31 August.

Also visiting Emerald Airport on Tuesday 30 August was Tasmanian-registered Cirrus SR22 VH-ZZD.  It had earlier arrived from Gladstone, where on Monday 29 August, it was believed that VH-ZZD had caused a QantasLink Dash-8-Q400 to 'go-around' after spending too much time on the Runway.

VH-ZZD departing Emerald Airport on Wednesday 31 August for Wagga Wagga and its Launceston home.

Also spotted parked was Gympie-based Cessna 210 VH-CEQ.

As this post is being written, I note that late on Wednesday 31 August, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Pilatus PC-12/45 VH-NQB ("FlyDoc 428") has visited Emerald Airport calling in from Mantuan Downs Airport.  It has since returned to its Charleville base.

Another medical evacuation visitor we mentioned below that called into Emerald Airport on Tuesday 30 August was LifeFlight (ex Careflight Queensland) (Aeromed) LearJet 45 bizjet VH-VVI "Ambulance 451" was arrived from Mackay and later departed to Gladstone.  It remains unclear if its visit was medical-related or training.

Finally, back on Monday 29 August, FKG Air Hawker Beechcraft G58 VH-FKI called into Emerald Airport from Toowoomba.  It then flew to Wanella Station (near Coppabella) before returning to Toowoomba later in the day. Also, Beech A36 Bonanza VH-ILG was noted visiting from its Mackay Airport base.

Gemmell Helicopters Bell 206 VH-SHK Passes Through Rockhampton Airport following Variety Club Bash to Bowen

An interesting helicopter visitor to pass through Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 31 August was Gemmell Helicopters (New South Wales) Bell 206L-1 VH-SHK.  It flew down from Hamilton Island and later departed to Heron Island.

Local plane spotters Kayanne H and Trevor H were on hand to capture some great photos of the chopper, which is adorned with stickers of the New South Wales Variety Club Bash 2016.  The New South Wales Variety Club Bash theme of ‘B to B’ was again followed in the 2016 (and 32nd) Bash which saw participants start at Berowra on the outskirts of Sydney and arrive at Bowen - driving some 3800km - earlier this week on Monday 29 August.  After 10 days of bashing through Central New South Wales and Central-Western Queensland, participants then spent Tuesday 30 August on Hamilton Island.

Meanwhile, there have been a couple of other interesting helicopter movements in and out of Rockhampton Airport over the last few days including New South Wales-based Robinson R44 II VH-KWT also arriving from the North on Wednesday 30 August.

On Tuesday 29 August, Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated of Theodore) Bell 206 (II) VH-JAQ flew into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) from Rockhampton Airport, while Forster Helicopters (of Townsville) Robinson R44 VH-JSI also flew into Shoalwater Bay but from the North.

Also on Tuesday 29 August, Stirling Helicopters Eurocopter AS.350B2 Squirrel helicopter VH-AGL and Robinson R44 II VH-ZNZ both flew from Rockhampton Airport out to Great Keppel Island on what was reported to be a corporate charter.  They returned to Rocky later in the afternoon.

Sincere thanks to Kayanne H and Trevor H for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos of VH-SHK!

Photos taken by Trevor Hardsman and Kayanne Hardsman  ©

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

LifeFlight (ex Careflight Queensland) (Aeromed) LearJet 45 Bizjet VH-VVI "Ambulance 451" also at CQ Airports Tuesday

Also on Tuesday 30 August, the LifeFlight (ex Careflight Queensland) (Aeromed) LearJet 45 bizjet VH-VVI "Ambulance 451" was noted visited several CQ Airports.  It is unclear if the visits by VH-VVI were for medical evacuations (med-evac) or simply training flights.

File photo

Around lunchtime, VH-VVI flew North from Brisbane to Mackay Airport.  It then flew further North to Cairns.  A little later, VH-VVI flew to Townsville and Mackay Airport again.  From Mackay, VH-VVI then flew West to Emerald Airport.

As this post is being written, VH-VVI has departed Emerald for Gladstone Airport, and is now enroute back to Brisbane.

Machjet (Machjet International) Cessna 525 Citation CJ1 Bizjet VH-SIY Completes Airwork at Some CQ Airports

On Tuesday 30 August, Machjet (Machjet International) Cessna 525 Citation CJ1 bizjet VH-SIY was noted at several CQ Airports after flying North from the Sunshine Coast and Archerfield.

File photo taken by David Geck  ©

It was initially noted completing airwork around Biloela / Thangool Airport before continuing towards Gladstone.  From Gladstone, VH-SIY then completed a missed approach at Rockhampton Airport before returning South and landing at Gladstone Airport for a short time.

Once in the air again, VH-SIY was then heard to fly via Bundaberg and Maryborough before returning to Archerfileld and then the Sunshine Coast.

A Couple of 'Other' Interesting Light GA Aircraft Call into Bundaberg Airport incl American Registered Columbia 300 N189TC and Baron N298WA

Over the last few days, I've noted that some more interesting light General Aviation (GA) aircraft that have called into Bundaberg Airport including a couple of locally-based lighties that still wear American registration markings.

On Friday 26 August, Lancair LC-40-550FG Columbia 300 N189TC was believed to have called into Bundy from its Sunshine Coast base.

While on Sunday 28 August, the familiar sight of Hawker Beechcraft G58 Baron N298WA was once again at Bundaberg Airport, returning from New Zealand flying from North Shore Aerodrome to Kerikeri (Bay of Islands) and Lord Howe Island.

N298WA Spotted at Cairns Airport earlier this year  (File photo)

Then on Monday 29 August, a former resident at Bundaberg Airport in the form of CromAir Cessna 414A VH-CBT called in from its now Sunshine Coast home.

VH-CBT at Wondai Aerodrome recently  (

The CromAir Facebook page indicates that VH-CBT should depart to the Gold Coast later this week.

Also on Monday 29 August,  Interair / Photomapping Services Cessna 404 Titan VH-TTZ called into Bundaberg Airport from Noumea and the Gold Coast.  On Tuesday 30 August, VH-TTZ departed Bundy for the Hevey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airport, before heading further South to Parkes and then Forbes in New South Wales.

Finally, noted arriving into the Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airport also on Tuesday 30 August was Yakovlev Yak-18T VH-IBT.  Flight tracking website 'Flightaware' indicates that VH-IBT arrived at Hervey Bay from Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast.  At the time of writing, there is no departure listed so perhaps it is staying at Hervey Bay for the night.  It also appears that VH-IBT is owned in Mackay, so may head further North in the coming days!

UPDATE!  We have confirmation that VH-IBT is now on the ground at Mackay Airport - it is reportedly parked outside the Mackay Aero Club building.

Photo taken by Far North Queensland Skies Blog  ©

Monday, August 29, 2016

Seair Pacific / Istlecote DHC-6-100 Twin Otter VH-ZKF Spotted at Bundaberg Airport

Photographed by local plane spotter Micah S last week at Bundaberg Airport was Seair Pacific's De Havilland DHC-6-100 Twin Otter VH-ZKF.  This was the first of two Twin Otters that Seair has acquired this year - the other being VH-BVS - see our photos of VH-BVS in our Blog Post HERE.

As we've mentioned previously, VH-ZKF was registered to Seair Pacific / Istlecote in mid-March this year after spending over a decade in Western Australia flying with the Karratha Flying Service.  The 'Twotter' was delivered to Seair's Gold Coast Airport base in late April.

VH-ZKF has been noted often operating Seair's flights to Lady Elliot Island from Bundaberg and Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airports (along with VH-BVS), as well as occasionally operating Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) charter flights to Theodore Aerodrome.

Research into this particular Twin Otter (MSN 43) also reveals that it has a historic link with Central Queensland.  The Twin Otter Spotter Blog and Twin Otter Archive websites both have a full history of the aircraft from the date is was rolled out of the De Havilland factory (29 March 1967) and when it completed its first flight (30 March 1967).

Flying as VH-TZL, this particular Twin Otter looked to arrive in Australia in 1978 and was operated by Aeropelican Intercity Commuter Services out of Newcastle (Belmont) Airport.  In 1981, VH-TZL then looked to move North and was seemingly operated out of Maryborough Airport - and perhaps other regional ports in CQ - for Noosa Air, Sunstate Airlines, Flight West Airlines and locally-based Whitaker Air Charter.

Unknown photographer / Michael J. Ody Collection /

Unknown photographer / Michael J. Ody Collection /

Information suggests that VH-TZL continued to be operated by Whitaker Air Charter until it was sold to the Karratha Flying Service and re-registered VH-ZKF in 2004.

Sincere thanks to Micah for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos of VH-ZKF!

Photos taken by Micah S  ©

Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) - Central Operations - Pilatus PC-12/45 VH-FGS Calls into Rockhampton Airport

On Monday 29 August, Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) - Central Operations - Pilatus PC-12/45 VH-FGS touched down at Rockhampton Airport, flying in direct from its Adelaide base as "FlyDoc 516".

Reasons behind its visit are unclear, however it looked to be staying for the night.

UPDATE!  Early on Tuesday 30 August, VH-FGS departed to Brisbane again as "FlyDoc 516".  It was scheduled to return to Adelaide but clearly this plan changed!

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter 'IAD' for taking the time to capture and send through some great photos of this great visitor to CQ!

All photos taken by 'IAD'  ©

And Yet More Bizjet Movements at Hamilton Island Airport on Monday!

Yet more bizjet action at Hamilton Island Airport on Monday 29 August with Mitchell Water Cessna 525 Citation M2 bizjet VH-WMY calling in from Cairns.  It later departed to Brisbane.

VH-WMY during a previous visit to Hamilton Island Airport  (File photo)

Also departing Hamilton Island Airport on Monday 29 August but for its Bankstown base was Balmoral Air Dassault Falcon 2000LX bizjet VH-WIO.  It had operated a pair of return flights to the Balina / Byron Gateway Airport in Northern New South Wales over the last couple of days.

On the lighter side of the interesting visitors to Hamilton Island Airport, also on Monday 29 August, Regional Air Gippaero GA-8 Airvan VH-OHN operated yet another return flight to Hamo from and back to Mackay Airport.

And finally, as this post is written, Trump Aviation / Australian Corporate Jet Centres 560 Citation Ultra bizjet VH-WFE is scheduled to depart back to Melbourne (Essendon) Airport on Tuesday 30 August after arriving from there on Sunday 28 August.

Photo taken by 'AC'  ©

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Report and Photos from Air-to-air Refuelling Sortie on board RAAF Airbus A330-203 / KC-30A (MRTT) A39-001 "Dragon 21"

During our recent time in Darwin, we had the unique opportunity to watch, at close-quarters, air-to-air refuelling drills from on board Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus A330-203 / KC-30A (MRTT) A39-001 "Dragon 21".

The KC-30A Tanker is flown by 33 Squadron based at RAAF Base Amberley.  The Squadron is responsible for aerial refuelling and long-range passenger transport and is controlled by No. 86 Wing, which is part of Air Mobility Group.  33 squadron currently operates five Airbus A330-203 / KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

A39-001 was the first to be built in March 2006 and over the following years, the aircraft was used by the EADS (Airbus) Conversion & Modification Centre in Spain to build, install and test the air-to-air refuelling equipment (boom, hose-and-drogue units, plus electronics). The remaining aircraft were converted by QANTAS Defence Services in Brisbane.  The first KC-30A entered service in June 2011.  Two more are due for delivery in 2018 which will bring the total number aircraft to seven.

The aircraft are crewed by pilots, refuelling operators and flight attendants. Internally, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had just boarded a regular Airbus A330. The interior is fitted out just like a regular civilian aircraft.  The RAAF’s KC-30A can seat up to 270 passengers in a 2 class configuration.

Air-to-air refuelling is considered a force multiplier, permitting the RAAF to increase the range and loiter time of its aircraft. The ability to refuel in flight also enables aircraft to take off with more ordinance than they might otherwise.

Departing RAAF Base Darwin, "Dragon 21", met up and refuelled seven General Dynamics F-16CM Vipers (Fighting Falcons) of the United States Air Force (USAF) / U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) 14th Fighter Squadron - nicknamed the ‘Samurais’ - which are based at Misawa Air Base in Japan.

The 14th FS fly the upgraded F-16CM Viper (previously known as the Block 40 F-16CG and Block F-16CJ variants) built between 1990 and 1992.  Of interest, their deployment from Misawa to Darwin was a new experience as it was the first time a USAF KC-10A or KC-135R equipped Aerial Refuelling Squadron did not deploy with the unit to support the 14 F-16Cs.

Instead, for the first time outside of the test environment, the USAF partnered up with a RAAF KC-30A tanker, flying non-stop with seven 14th FS F-16Cs from Kadena AFB in Japan to Darwin in a little over six hours.  This process was repeated, resulting in 14 jets and 175 personnel , as well as support gear, being deployed in three days.

To refuel the USAF F-16Cs, the RAAF KC-30A used its 18-metre-long Advanced Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), controlled by an Air Refuelling Operator at a station located in the KC-30A’s flightdeck using fly-by-wire controls and 3-D glasses.

CPL Glen McCarthy / Defence image

Initially, four Vipers formed up together on the port side of the KC-30A before flying one-by-one behind the KC-30A for refuelling.  The ARBS 'plugs' into a fuel receptacle on the F-16C and refuelling takes place.  The F-16Cs then re-formed on the starboard side of the KC-30A before departing back to the Exercise area.

The whole process was then repeated with another three 14th FS F-16Cs.

A little later in the flight, "Dragon 21" met up with a pair of Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets from Number 1 Squadron also based at Amberley.

The Super Hornets were refuelled by the KC-30's pair of all-electric refuelling pods that are mounted underneath each wing.  These pods unreel a hose-and-drogue system to refuel the probe-equipped aircraft. These systems are also controlled by an Air Refuelling Operator in the flightdeck.

Like the USAF F-16Cs, the RAAF Super Hornets again joined the KC-30A on the port side before they each joined the hose-and-drogue system on each side of the tanker.

Refuelling complete, both Super Hornets positioned off the starboard side wing before also departing back to the battlefield.

"Dragon 21" then returned to RAAF Base Darwin with what seemed to be a fairly rapid descent from flight levels - certainly in comparison to other commercial flights.  All up, we were in the air for a little over three hours.

CPL Casey Gaul / Defence image

All in all, it was a very unique and privileged experience, something that I am truly privileged to have been a part of.  Our thanks must again go to Squadron Leader Briggs from RAAF Media Operations for the opportunity provided to us to view these capabilities up close and to gain a better understanding of their role in Pitch Black 2016 and in domestic and international military operations.