Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Exercise Wallaby 2019 - Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124 RA-82044 Touches Down at Rockhampton Airport with Four RSAF AS332M Super Puma Helicopters

A great morning for aircraft enthusiasts and many other curious onlookers as right at dawn on Tuesday 17 September, Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124-100 RA-82044 touched down at Rockhampton Airport.  It flew in directly from Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore as VDA2202. 

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 was then placed into its unique 'kneeling' position  - with its front landing gear raised - to allow the unloading of its cargo.

On this flight, four Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Aerospatiale / Eurocopter AS332M Super Puma helicopters were unloaded and parked at Rockhampton Airport.  They were seen to be wearing the serials '271', '273', '279' and '283'.

All four Super Puma helicopters are reportedly flown by the RSAF's 126 Helicopter Squadron "Cougar" (126 SQN).  Their motto is "Ready and Able", with the Cougar adopted as the squadron's motif.

Formed initially on 16 September 1992 at Sembawang Air Base in Singapore, the 126 SQN consisted of newly purchased Cougar helicopters, which were an upgraded version of the Super Puma helicopters then used by its sister squadron – 125 SQN. 126 Squadron was based at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre, supporting the Singapore Armed Force's training needs in Australia, however over the last year, the Squadron moved back to Singapore with Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters now deployed to Oakey on a full-time basis.

It is expected that the Super Pumas will soon be re-assembled and test flown ahead of their participation in the Singapore Armed Force's Exercise Wallaby 2019 which is expected to kick-off in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, after all four Super Puma helicopters were unloaded, RA-82044 was closed up and looked to be departing back to Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore late on Tuesday 17 September.  There are unconfirmed reports that it will return to Rockhampton Airport early on Thursday 19 September with four RSAF Bowing AH-64D Apache helicopters on board.

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', Trevor H and Kayanne H for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos of the Antonov AN-124 at Rockhampton Airport!

Photos taken by 'IAD', Trevor Hardsman and Kayanne Hardsman  ©

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