A great morning for aircraft enthusiasts and many other curious onlookers as right at dawn on Thursday 13 September, Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124-100 RA-82046 touched down at Rockhampton Airport. It flew in directly from Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore as VDA3194.
The giant aircraft taxied onto Gate 6 at the Southern end of the Rockhampton Airport apron and after a couple of hours, it finally commenced unloading its cargo.
The massive Antonov is shown with its front landing gear raised and the aircraft placed into its unique 'kneeling' position to allow the unloading of its cargo.
On this flight, four Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopters - believed to be wearing serials '058', '069', '064' and '066' - were unloaded. All four Apaches are flown by the RSAF's 120 Squadron "Kestrel" (also known as the "Red Hawks") based at Sembawang Air Base.
It is expected that they will soon be re-assembled and test flown ahead of their participation in the Singapore Armed Force's Exercise Wallaby 2018 which is expected to kick-off in the next week.
Meanwhile, after all four Apache helicopters were unloaded, RA-82046 was closed up and looked to be staying for at least the night. Unconfirmed reports suggest that it could depart Rockhampton Airport over the weekend, although as this post is being written, the latest news is that it could also possibly leave mid-morning on Friday 14 September.
Moreover, sadly for local aircraft enthusiasts, this will be the only inbound flight by the Antonov AN-124 with the RSAF now basing their Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters with their Aerospatiale / Eurocopter AS332M Super Puma helicopters at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre. The Antonov will be back in mid-November to transport the Apache helicopters back to Singapore once Exercise Wallaby 2018 is over.
The heavy jet action is expected to resume at Rocky late next week or over that following weekend, with passenger charter flights from Singapore expected to commence with reports suggesting that once again Singapore Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines and Air New Zealand will be operating the charters this year.
Be sure to stay tuned to the CQ Plane Spotting Blog for all the latest news and updates via our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cqplanespotting/
Sincere thanks to local plane spotters 'IAD', Daniel B and Kayanne H for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos and video of the Antonov AN-124 at Rockhampton Airport!
Photos and video taken by 'IAD', Daniel Bishop and Kayanne Hardsman ©