At Rockhampton Airport, the visiting Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N137CG "Bomber 137" completed several water-drop runs to the South and then to the West of the city as the fire-front forced the evacuation of nearby towns of Gracemere, Mount Larcom and Kabra. It later departed Rocky and looked to spend the night parked at Mackay Airport.
And also fellow Coulson Aviation (USA) Lockheed EC-130Q Hercules (L-382) N130CG "Bomber 134" also flew up to the Rockhampton area to also join the fire-fight. It too later landed at Rockhampton Airport and also looked to be spending the night in the beef capital.
The three big fire-fighting aircraft were joined by several smaller locally-based aircraft which were noted operating out of Rockhampton Airport. These included:
R-Mach Aviation Ayres S2R Turbine Thrush VH-NFF "Bomber 407" and PZL Warszawa-Okecie M-18B Dromader VH-MDR "Bomber 402". These were also joined in the air by R-Mach's Cessna 337G VH-JOE "Birddog 410" which looked to operate around the Mackay area.
Emerald-based Central Highlands Aerial Services (CHAS) Thrush S2R-T660 aircraft VH-PMD "Bomber 434" and VH-KCS "Bomber 435" were also photographed operating out of Rockhampton Airport during the afternoon as they completed many runs over the Gracemere and Kabra areas.
In support of these water-bombing aircraft and also operating out of Rockhampton also on Wednesday 28 November were Victorian-based Agair Logistics P/L Gulfstream American Corporation 695A Jetprop Commander 1000 VH-HPY as "Birddog 275" and Air Affairs Australia / Gojet (New South Wales) Gates LearJet 35A bizjet VH-LPJ "Firescan 124".
Another aircraft operated by Air Affairs Australia / Gojet was Beech B200T King Air VH-LAB as "Firescan 125" which was noted arriving into Mackay Airport from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales also on Wednesday 28 November. It was due to land at Bundaberg Airport but ended up continuing further North.
While Kennedy Aviation (Kennedy Air Services) of Gunnedah in New South Wales, North American Rockwell 500S VH-XAS as "Birddog 444" flew up to the Rockhampton Airport from Gladstone Airport where it seems to be currently based.
Meanwhile, also down at Gladstone Airport, more fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters were also photographed as they concluded their days work.
Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated) / Eagle Copters Leasing Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 407 helicopter VH-IBF as "Firebird 423" has been noted operating around the Deepwater / Agnes Water area.
Along with a pair of McDermott Aviation / Heli-Lift Australia Bell 214B-1 Big Lifter helicopters in the form of P2-MSA "Helitack 412" (pictured) and N281JL "Helitack 413". Fellow McDermott Aviation Aerospatiale AS.355F1 Squirrel helicopter VH-HRU as "Firebird 474" has also been heard operating in the fire-zone.
While there were also a pair of Meandarra Aerial Spraying Air Tractor AT-802 aircraft VH-NFY "Bomber 426" (pictured) and VH-SDJ "Bomber 719".
Finally, additional fire-fighting personnel from interstate are being flown into the region on various charter flights. Late on Wednesday 28 November, Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 VH-JFE was noted visiting Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) Airport from Port Macquarie in New South Wales as UTY562. It later departed to Brisbane as UTY564.
While, as pictured above, on Tuesday 27 November, Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 VH-XWR brought personnel also from New South Wales to Gladstone Airport. It arrived from Brisbane as UTY550 and later departed back to the capital as UTY551. The firefighters had earlier arrived in Brisbane from Sydney on a commercial flight.
Sincere thanks to the local plane spotters for their help in compiling the information and for allowing us to share these great photos contained in this post. We offer our thoughts and prayers to those who are affected by this bushfire emergency and sincere thank those volunteer and other firefighters who are battling these fierce blazes up and down the Queensland coast.
Photos taken by Daniel Bishop, Kayanne Hardsman and Michael Fleetwood ©