What a wonderful long weekend!
The Old Station Fly-in and Heritage Show at Raglan was held over the long weekend of Friday 26 May
to Sunday 28 May
, with (I'm told) an estimated 20,000 strong crowd in attendance over the three days enjoying the sights and sounds as over 150 aircraft and helicopters which flew in from all parts of Queensland and interstate! There was also an impressive truck show, some classic cars, and plenty of new and old machinery. Meanwhile, the tractor pulling was extremely popular with big crowds enjoying the action during the weekend!
The entire weekend was hosted by the Creed Family and the Old Station Flying Club. There was support from numerous sponsors and various charity organisations, along with other local flying groups, who not only had their aircraft on display, but also assisted with the ground marshalling, parking all the visiting aircraft.
We arrived at the Old Station on Friday 26 May
to see that almost 100 aircraft had arrived. We enjoyed a lovely evening catching up with old friends eating some delicious 'Old Station Stew' from the 'Feed Barn' and enjoying great entertainment during an informal evening.
From early on Saturday 27 May
, one of biggest crowds I've seen came to the farm and wandered amongst the visiting aircraft (with even more arrivals!) and enjoyed car and truck displays, market stalls, various machinery and of course, the tractor pulling!
For most of the weekend, the crowd was entertained by some spectacular Warbirds which operated regular aerobatic joyflights out of the Old Station. The most popular aircraft were undoubtedly the Warbird Adventure Flights-operated North American T-28D Trojan VH-TRO and Australia's only Beech 45 / T-34 Mentor VH-XUS.
Paul Bennet also operated joyflights in his unmissable Grumman TBM-3E Avenger Warbird VH-MML
Inverted Downunder / Matt Hall Racing Extra EA-300L VH-IOG also operated several aerobatic joyflights during the weekend including a couple of lucky passengers having Matt Hall fly them around during "The Ultimate Experience" in aerobatic joyflights!
Slightly more sedate was Biloela-registered Bell Helicopter Textron 206B VH-SIJ which also operated joyflights over the Old Station and surrounds.
While McDermott Aviation Group / Machjet International are always great supporters of the Old Station Fly-in and this time they sent three helicopters - Bell 214B-1 Biglifter VH-SUH and Aerospatiale / Eurocopter Dauphins VH-NAR and N82MD.
During the middle of Saturday afternoon, the crowds settled in for a spectacular airshow which featured aerobatic displays by Paul Bennet Airshows and Australia's own Top Gun pilot Matt Hall, before the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) elite formation aerobatic display team - The Roulettes - provided a thrilling conclusion to the day.
The skies above the Old Station came alive with a patriotic parachute drop from Paul Bennet Airshow's recently acquired Cessna A185F Skywagon VH-OZX with the parachutist accompanied on his descent by Paul Bennet himself in his Wolf Pitts Pro VH-PVB.
Brian Scoffell in his Amateur-built Replica Spitfire MK 26B VH-LZC took the air with the 80% size replica completing several flypasts of the Old Station.
This was followed by Kim Rolph-Smith in his ever popular North American T-28 Trojan VH-TRO which put on a great display featuring several flypasts.
Rockhampton-based R-Mach Aviation PZL Warszawa-Okecie M-18B Dromader VH-MDR then put in a great handling and then water-bombing and spraying display.
Paul Bennet returned to the skies putting his Amateur-built Wolf Pitts Pro VH-PVB through its paces with a truly spectacular aerobatic display which had the massive crowds buzzing!
McDermott Aviation / Heli-Lift Australia Bell 214B-1 Biglifter helicopter VH-SUH then took to the skies and demonstrated a new capability of clearing logs and boulders by using a grappling claw attached to the underside the chopper. The pilot demonstrated the use of the grappling claw by expertly picked up two logs and placed them on the ground - completely without ground support. This capability is already being used by McDermott Aviation in the USA where their helicopters have been clearing fallen trees and debris from roads and highways.
Taking to the air soon after and completing several spectacular flypasts was the 1954-built Beech 45 / T-34 Mentor VH-XUS.
Making its debut appearance at the Old Station was Paul Bennet's The Pitts Model 12 VH-TYJ. The large fully aerobatic biplane is designed around utilising its 360hp Russian Vedeneyev M14P radial engine and not only put on a great show but had the distinctive sound of the radial engine working hard.
Warbird Adventure Flights Yakovlev Yak-52 VH-YNO was joined by Paul Bennet in his Amateur-built Wolf Pitts Pro VH-PVB to form 'The SkyAces' who put on a wonderful formation aerobatic display.
Matt Hall then took to the skies once again in his Extra EA-300L VH-IOG, performing an awe inspiring aerobatic display and air-race simulation that had the crowd amazed. Of interest, he jets off this week to compete in the Japanese leg of the Red Bull Air Race 2017 World Championship.
Then one of my personal favourite aircraft took to the skies with Paul Bennet piloting his mighty Grumman TBM-3E Avenger Warbird VH-MML.
Bringing the airborne displays to an end was six of the Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft of the RAAF Roulettes which flew down from Rockhampton Airport and put on a spectacular display with some manoeuvres leaving the crowd gasping in awe.
Sadly though, their display was cut short due to a maintenance issue with one of the aircraft. This saw only four of the PC-9/A aircraft land at the Old Station for an overnight visit while the other two returned to Rocky.
But the 'show' wasn't quite finished with Mikoyan MIG-15UTI VH-DIE wheeled out by the Creeds and its Klimov VKI LIS-2 Turbojet engine fired up and pushed to full power by Richard McDonald. Sadly the airframe is out-of-hours so couldn't take to the skies.
After the airshow, the people that stayed at the Old Station - including a large amount of on-site campers - were entertained with live music, chainsaw competition, cross-saw competition, bonfires and a spectacular fireworks display.
It was a wonderful weekend with most aircraft departing for their home airfields during a foggy morning on Sunday 28 May
It should be pointed out that all proceeds from the weekend - from admissions, auctions, food and drink sales, and part of the joyflights - will aid the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service (CHRS). CHRS (Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia) Bell 412 VH-LSY also arrived on the Saturday as "Rescue 300" and was a very popular display at the Old Station!
We would like to congratulate the Creed Family and the Old Station Flying Club for running yet another very successful weekend! Their hard work and commitment are remarkable and should be heartily congratulated!
Personally, I would like to thank Leonie Creed for the very kind invitation to be the 'Official Photographer' for the long weekend - it was a thoroughly enjoyable role!