Monday, November 26, 2018

Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker ‘Fireliner’ N137CG “Bomber 137” Calls into Rockhampton Airport

On Monday 26 November, the growing bushfire crisis near Agnes Water saw the arrival into the region and at Rockhampton Airport of Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N137CG "Bomber 137".  It arrived directly from RAAF Base Richmond in New South Wales.

It is based at Richmond along with other Coulson Aviation Lockheed C-130 Hercules firefighting aircraft while they are deployed to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) for the Australian Summer.

N137CG initially flew over the fire zone and dropped some 15000 litres of water onto the fire before being photographed arriving into Rockhampton Airport for a historic first visit.

It subsequently departed back to the fire-zone to complete another water-drop and returned to Rockhampton Airport to re-fuel and re-load on at least a further two occasions.

N137CG finished the day parked on the Northern end of the Rockhampton Airport parking apron and is expected to return to the skies and the fire-zone on Tuesday 27 November.

Of interest, N137CG is the first of six planned Boeing B737 ‘Fireliner’ air tankers that Coulson Aviation has acquired and will convert.   Each B737-300 aircraft was previously operated by Southwest Airlines in the USA with N137GC entering service with Coulson Aviation and being certified in late 2017 having previously operating as N617SW from 1995 until it was withdrawn from use in February 2017.

This is believed to be the first deployment for N137CG which commemorated a world first water-drop last Friday 23 November when it was used operationally for the first time providing support to ground crews fighting bushfires in New South Wales.

Meanwhile, a pair of Australian based aircraft were also spotted visiting Rockhampton Airport which are both believed to be flying in support of the B737.

Victorian-based Agair Logistics P/L Gulfstream American Corporation 695A Jetprop Commander 1000 VH-HPY flew in support over the fire-zone as "Birddog 275".

While it is believed that fellow Agair Logistics P/L Rockwell Turbo Commander 690B VH-LVG flew in support staff to Rockhampton Airport from RAAF Base Richmond.   It was heard to be flying as "Birddog 273".

After re-fuelling, it later returned to Richmond.

Finally, the fleet of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters continues noted flying around the region last week (see Blog post below) continued to be noted in the region also on Monday 26 November.

Kennedy Aviation (Kennedy Air Services) of Gunnedah in New South Wales, North American Rockwell 500S VH-XAS as "Birddog 444" and  Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated) / Eagle Copters Leasing Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 407 helicopter VH-IBF as "Firebird 423" were both noted fighting bushfires in the Deepwater area.

While McDermott Aviation Group / Machjet International Aerospatiale AS.355F1 Squirrel helicopter VH-HRU as "Firebird 474" and Bell 214B-1 Biglifter helicopter N281JL as "Helitac 413" were noted operating out of Bundaberg Airport.

And Rockhampton-based R-Mach Aviation Cessna 337G VH-JOE as "Birddog 410" was noted flying up to the Mackay region and operated to the South-West of the city before later returning to Rockhampton Airport.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that on Friday 23 November, it is believed that Meandarra Aerial Spraying Air Tractor AT-802 VH-SDJ arrived into Gladstone Airport from the South as "Bomber 719" to assist with the bushfire fighting efforts.

Sincere thanks to the Rockhampton plane spotters for sending through these great photos of a historic visitor to the region, albeit in very sad circumstances.  Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are affected by this current bushfire emergency.

Photos taken by Daniel Bishop, Kayanne Hardsman and Scott Harris  ©

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