Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Welcome Storms and Rain Late Tuesday - Bushfire Crisis Seemingly Over - Water-Bombing Aircraft and Helicopters Head Home!

Welcome rain and storms passed through most of Queensland late on Tuesday 4 December and as a result, it would appear that the immediate bushfire crisis that was affecting parts of Central Queensland seems to have come to an end.  As a result, over the course of Wednesday 5 December, most of the visiting firefighting aircraft and helicopters, along with the many local and visiting firefighters, have begun to return to their home bases.

Alliance Airlines Fokker F-70 VH-NKQ was spotted visiting Mackay Airport.  It arrived from Brisbane as UTY561 and departed back there a short time later as UTY562.

It reportedly transported visiting firefighters home from Mackay.

The large water-bombing aircraft that have been based at Rockhampton Airport looked to depart back to their bases in New South Wales.  The Conair Aviation (Canada) British Aerospace BAe 146 / Avro RJ-85 C-GVFT "Bomber 166" completed one final water-bombing run to Curtis Island before departing to Dubbo.  It completed one shortly before the storm hit late on Tuesday.

While the Coulson Aviation (USA) Boeing B737-300 Large Air Tanker 'Fireliner' N137CG "Bomber 137" departed Rocky direct to RAAF Base Richmond.  It is pictured below at Mackay Airport over the weekend.

It was joined by Victorian-based Agair Logistics P/L Gulfstream American Corporation 695A Jetprop Commander 1000 VH-HPY "Birddog 275" which also departed Rockhampton Airport for the Curtis Island fire before it too went to Richmond.

Of interest, Kennedy Aviation North American Rockwell 500S VH-XAS as "Birddog 444" continues to operate out of Gladstone Airport and was noted flying North to Mackay and back also on Wednesday 5 December.

After arriving into Gladstone Airport earlier in the week (as shown below), the smaller fixed-wind water-bombing 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 arrived into Rockhampton Airport.

VH-PMD and VH-KCS later departed to their Emerald landing site.

Of the visiting helicopters that assisted with the firefighting efforts, the visiting New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) Aerospatiale AS.350B2 Squirrel helicopter VH-NFO "Firebird 200" departed Rockhampton Airport for the Sunshine Coast.  It did runs to Curtis Island on Tuesday 4 December.

While Stirling Helicopters (Stirling Consolidated) / Eagle Copters Leasing Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 407 helicopter VH-IBF as "Firebird 423" initially operated from Rocky on a fire inspection flight before it later departed on a powerline inspection flight.  It was joined by fellow Stirling Helicopters Bell 206 helicopters VH-JMM and VH-JAQ and Heli-Central (Emerald) Aerospatiale AS.350B2 Squirrel VH-ZHM which all flew powerline inspection flights following the storms.

Photos taken by Isaac S, 'JM', The FNQ Skies Blog and Michael Fleetwood  ©

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