Monday, December 3, 2018

Nautius Aviation Bell 412 Helicopter VH-ZVP in Westpac Lifesaving Colours Calls into CQ Airports - Plus Yet More Photos of Water-Bombing Aircraft and Helicopters

On Monday 3 December, Nautilus Aviation Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 412EP helicopter VH-ZVP was photographed at Mackay Airport.  It had earlier arrived from the Sunshine Coast via stops at Gladstone and Rockhampton Airports.

VH-ZVP still wears Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter titles having operated from their Sydney base over the previous few weeks.

VH-ZVP also has a water tank attached and appears to have joined the firefighting efforts in the region with it noted using the radio callsign of "Helitack 421".

Reports suggest that bushfires have sprung up around the Carmila area near to Mackay.  At one stage late on Monday 3 December, there were as many as five water-bombing helicopters noted on the ground at Mackay Airport – whether they remained there is uncertain.

Meanwhile, the smaller fixed-wind water-bombing aircraft which have been operating from Finch Hatton in recent days appear to have moved South with all four aircraft - Rockhampton-based R-Mach Aviation Ayres S2R Turbine Thrush VH-NFF "Bomber 407" and PZL Warszawa-Okecie M-18B Dromader VH-MDR "Bomber 402", along with Emerald-based Central Highlands Aerial Services (CHAS) Thrush S2R-T660 aircraft VH-PMD "Bomber 434" and VH-KCS "Bomber 435” all noted arriving into Gladstone Airport during the afternoon and evening.

Also noted flying South towards Gladstone were Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated) / Eagle Copters Leasing Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 407 helicopter VH-IBF as "Firebird 423" and the visiting New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) Aerospatiale AS.350B2 Squirrel helicopter VH-NFO "Firebird 200".

Photographed arriving back into Rockhampton Airport late on Monday 3 December was Touchdown Helicopters (Wollongong) OAS Parts (Bell) UH-1H Iroquois VH-OXI as "Helitack 229".

While also photographed at Rockhampton Airport after returning from yet another water-bombing run was the visiting Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N137CG "Bomber 137".

It, and the Conair Aviation (Canada) British Aerospace BAe 146 / Avro RJ-85 C-GVFT "Bomber 166" continued to operate out of Rockhampton Airport, completing sorties towards Gladstone and Curtis Island during the afternoon and as the sun was setting.

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 'AC' and Russell Prothero  ©

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