Monday, July 31, 2023

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 - Australian Army NH Industries MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopter A40-040 "Bushman 83" Crashes in the Whitsundays - 4 Lives Lost

During the late evening, just after 10.30pm on Friday 28 July, Australian Army NH Industries MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopter A40-040 "Bushman 83" ditched into waters close to Hamilton Island.

The four-crew helicopter was engaged in a two-helicopter mission, part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 (TS23).  A40-040 had only just passed through Rockhampton and Gladstone Airports (pictured) while flying up to Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport where it and other MRH-90s were operating from.

An extensive search and rescue mission commenced in the Whitsundays immediately following the crash.  This involved United States Air Force (USAF) Lockheed MC-130J Commando II Hercules and Lockheed AC-130J Ghostrider gunship Hercules aircraft.  See our Blog post below for more information and photos!

Since Friday night, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Queensland’s Emergency Services have directed a continuous and co-ordinated maritime and air search and rescue mission in the Whitsundays region involving more than 800 personnel.

Sadly, it seems that the four soldiers from the Australian Army’s 6th Aviation Regiment lost their lives.

On Sunday 30 July, it was reported that a large part of the wreckage had been located with sections of the fuselage brought to the mainland.  They showed the helicopter serial to be A40-040.

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Brisbane, along with the US Navy ship USS Miguel Keith were all deployed to the search, along with specialist divers.

RAN sailors from HMAS Huon have been conducting search operations near Lindeman Island.  HMAS Huon is a Huon class minehunter coastal, with underwater sensor, sonar detection, clearance diving and remotely-operated vehicle capabilities.

UPDATE!  On Wednesday 2 August, the HMAS Huon’s remotely operated underwater vehicle discovered parts of the cockpit and human remains close to the crash site.

Of special interest, since their introduction to service in 2007, the MRH-90 Taipan helicopters have presented ongoing technical and cost challenges for the ADF.  It is understood Defence planners opposed the original Howard government decision to purchase the choppers.

On multiple occasions, the helicopters have been grounded on safety concerns.  In March this year, the fleet was grounded after an MRH-90 suffered engine failure and ditched into the water at Jervis Bay in NSW during a counter-terrorism training exercise.

Our thoughts and prayers go to all the family and friends of the victims of this terrible tragedy.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Private American Registered Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global 6500 Bizjet N82HP Pops into Hamilton Island Airport - Plus More!

On Sunday 30 July, Private American Registered Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global 6500 bizjet N82HP popped into Hamilton Island Airport.  It arrived from Sydney (pictured) and then departed to Brisbane.

While American-registered but Australian-based Gulfstream Aerospace G-V-SP (G550) bizjet N360LF departed Hamilton Island Airport for Sydney.  It had arrived from there on Friday 28 July.

Bowenville (near Toowoomba) based Cessna 525 CitationJet CJ1+ bizjet VH-JSZ flew up from Archerfield to my local Clermont Aerodrome before then departing to Wangaratta in Victoria.

Elphinstone Group (Burnie) / Revesco Aviation (Perth) Embraer EMB-500 Phenom bizjet VH-PNM flew up from Melbourne (Essendon), Burnie and Narrabri to Hamilton Island Airport. 

UPDATE!  On Sunday 6 August, VH-PNM finally departed Hamilton Island Airport for Brisbane.

McDermott Aviation Group / Machjet International Cessna 525A CitationJet CJ2 bizjet VH-SUY as "Machflight 41" was noted calling into Hamilton Island Airport.  It arrived from the Sunshine Coast and then departed to Sydney.  It then returned to the Sunny Coast.

And Flight One (Services) Raytheon B300 Super King Air VH-UVH flew from Toowoomba to Port Macquarie and then up to Emerald Airport before then returning to Toowoomba.

Sincere thanks to Sydney-based specialist aviation photographer Grahame Hutchison for allowing us to share this great photo!

Do check out more of Grahame's fantastic images on his well-known Sydney Airport based website

Photo taken by Grahame Hutchison  ©

And RAAF C-17 Globemaster A41-208 - Plus a Pair of Australian Army Tiger ARH Helicotpers - All Spotted at Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport - Plus More!

Also on Sunday 30 July, there were a couple of interesting visitors to Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport that were photographed during the day.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing C-17A Globemaster III A41-208 as "ASY 667" appears to have visited from Canberra.

Presumably this visit is in support of the ongoing search and rescue efforts following the crash of the Australian Army MRH-90 helicopter "Bushman 83" on Friday night.

UPDATE!  News reports late on Sunday 30 July show the wreckage to have been found and the crashed MRH-90 to A40-040.

While photographed also on Sunday 30 July, soon after arriving into Proserpine Airport from Townsville, were a pair of Australian Army Eurocopter (ARH) Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters.

Their serials are a mystery but they were heard to fly down as "Angry 11" and "Angry 12".

Local media during the day also showed images of an Australian Army Boeing CH-47F Foxtrot Chinook helicopter at the Whitsunday Airport at Shute Harbour.

Again, I presume this visit to be in support of the search and rescue efforts of the crashed MRH-90 helicopter.

Finally, also late on Sunday 30 July, it is believed that United States Air Force (USAF) Lockheed MC-130J Commando II Hercules aircraft 11-5731 landed at Rockhampton Airport.

All photos taken by Kieran Hogan and Nigel Nona  ©

Also Spotted at Mackay Airport - USMC MV-22B Ospreys of VMM-363 - USAF AC-130J Ghostrider gunship Hercules "Jakal 92" Back Again!

Also spotted at Mackay Airport, but early on Sunday 30 July, were the three United States Marine Corps (USMC) Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft of VMM-363 'Lucky Red Lions' which arrived the previous evening following an Exercise at Lakeside Airpark.

As shown, the three Ospreys were identified as 168687 (YZ-13) "Dumptruck 11", 168686 (YZ-11) "Dumptruck 12" and 168234 (YZ-03) "Dumptruck 13".

These Ospreys are a part of the latest Marine Rotational Force Darwin (MRF-D) and have deployed from the top end to RAAF Base Scherger in Far North Queensland for the Joint Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 (TS23).

They all later made a spectacular departure to the North again as "Dumptruck 11-13".

Meanwhile, also spotted at Mackay Airport, also early on Sunday 30 July, was United States Air Force (USAF) Lockheed AC-130J Ghostrider gunship Hercules aircraft 18-5891 "Jackal 92" which looked to return overnight following more flying over the search area where the missing Australian Army MRH-90 helicopter "Bushman 83" went down on Friday evening.

The Herc later departed Mackay Airport and flew down to RAAF Base Richmond where it has been deployed to for TS23.

Sincere thanks again to the local plane spotters for allowing to share these great photos!

Photos and video taken by Peter Jackson, David Sayles and 'JM'  ©

A Pair of United States Army (US Army) Sikorsky HH-60M Medevac BlackHawk Helicopters Arrive into Rockhampton via Mackay Airport

On Sunday 30 July, a pair of the visiting United States Army (US Army) Sikorsky HH-60M medevac Black Hawk helicopters arrived into Camp Rocky - the Australian Army Defence Support Unit (DSU) camp adjacent to Rockhampton Airport.

They flew down from Townsville via a fuel stop at Mackay Airport where they were photographed above and identified as 20-21134 and 20-21135.  They were heard to use the radio callsign of "Dustoff 134".

Research reveals these HH-60M Black Hawks are of the 2nd Battalion 158th Aviation Regiment 'Warhawks', and are part of the 13 helicopters deployed from the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, USA.

They arrived into Gladstone Port via Ship and have been participating in Joint Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 (TS23) up in Townsville.

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter Peter J for allowing us to share these great photos from Mackay Airport!

Photos taken by Peter Jackson and Steve Vit  ©

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Nice United Aero Helicopters Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk Helicopter N360UH Passes Through Longreach Airport - Plus More!

On Saturday 29 July, a really nice helicopter in the form of United Aero Helicopters 1982-build Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk N360UH passed through Longreach Airport while reportedly heading up to Asia to completing aerial firefighting duties.

It looked to fly up from Camden in New South Wales and then later depart to Mount Isa.  N360UH is pictured above early on Sunday 30 July as it continued from Mount Isa to Darwin.

Of interest, N360UH arrived at Camden in November 2022 from the USA (along with N260UH) and is a former US Army Aviation machine which previously wore the serial number 81-23596.

Meanwhile, also on Saturday 29 July, LifeFlight (Aeromed) Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 bizjet VH-OFB "Ambulance 624" was spotted arriving into Mackay Airport from Townsville.

It later departed to Brisbane before then flying back to Townsville.

Re-registered Essendon Aviation Services (Mackay, Queensland!!) Cessna S550 Citation S/2 bizjet VH-SQM departed Mackay Airport for Melbourne (Moorabbin).  It seems to have arrived back on Friday 14 July.

Shortstop Jet Charter Dassault Falcon 900C bizjet VH-OAA arrived into Bundaberg Airport from Brisbane.  It then departed to Melbourne (Essendon).

Avcair (Avgunn) LearJet 60 bizjet VH-ILJ flew out from Brisbane to Longreach Airport and then across to Rockhampton Airport.  It then looked to fly up to Cairns.

Edwards Coaches Cessna 441 Conquest II VH-OXY flew up from Armidale and Archerfield to Mackay Airport before then returning back to its Armidale base.

And Southern Airlines Rockwell 690A Turbo Commander VH-SOU departed Bundaberg Airport for the South before returning and then departing once again but this time to Gladstone Airport and then returning to Bundy yet again.

Photos taken by 'JM'  ©

Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 - Four US Army Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters Bring VIPs to Bowen Aerodrome

On Friday 29 July, four United States Army (US Army) Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters were photographed paying a spectacular visit to Bowen Aerodrome. It looks like they flew down in formation from Townsville and brought down some VIPs most likely to inspect the goings on as the joint Military Exercise Talisman Sabre ended its first week.

After dropping off passengers, they all departed and appeared to fly South, possibly to Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) Airport.

Once complete, all four returned to Bowen Aerodrome and collected their passengers before then returning to Townsville.

They were identified as 14-20649, 11-20340, 14-20653, and 13-20571 and are from the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, USA.  Specifically, these UH-60M Blackhawks are flown by the 2nd Battalion 158th Aviation Regiment 'Warhawks'.

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter James K for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos from his local Bowen Aerodrome!

All photos taken by James Kirk  ©