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Looking Back at Australia’s Avalon Air Show of 2009

Looking Back to the 2009 Australian International Airshow And Aerospace & Defence Exposition

The largest air show in Australia had plenty of historic milestones to mark in 2009. The biennial event contained, for many spectators, the final aerial presentations of the Royal Australian Air Force’s DHC-4 Caribous and General Dynamics F-111Cs.

Throw in a Lockheed Constellation, Douglas Dakotas, a Boeing F-18F Super Hornet and C-17 Globemaster III and more exciting aircraft in the air and on the ground, and one had a fantastic overview of aviation Down Under.

Before the weekend’s big flying display, a trade show was held at the Avalon Airport, near the city of Geelong, Victoria. Daily flight presentations showed off specific handling and aerobatics capabilities of both military and civilian models of aircraft. A USAF B-1 bomber operated from Avalon Airport during the week too, no doubt training with RAAF aircraft and military operators.

The Friday evening show was impacted by foggy weather that rolled in off of the nearby ocean. Unfortunately, severe squalls interfered with some of the weekend flying the next day or two as well, but for the most part, the show went on as planned!

Highlights for me included:


The last time I’d see an F-111 in the air, and it was memorable in a few ways. The vivid “dump and burn” blazing passes famously performed by RAAF F-111s seemed longer than usual, and in another stroke of luck, the demonstration aircraft was one of only four RF-111Cs that were ever built.

The DHC-4 Caribou has some unique slow speed flight characteristics for such a large plane, and the last demonstrations by the aircraft were breathtaking. A favorite was the “wheelbarrow”, where the plane was flown down the main runway, with only the nose landing gear wheels touching the pavement.

The HARS Connie flew during the show, its graceful lines stood out against a nearby hill. Those flaming exhausts were bright during the Friday evening show too.

Some of the antiques were stunning… a DE Havilland Drover and a pristine Stinson Reliant represented a bygone era.

A big salute to firefighters was displayed during the afternoons, as the year before helicopters and other water bombers fought some very serious wildfires in Australia.

Boeing brought a loaned-out U. S. Navy F-18F Super Hornet, flown by their test pilot Ricado Traven, which wowed the crowds.

QANTAS Airlines has a maintenance base at Avalon, and the new “super-sized” Airbus A-380 made an appearance for a day during the week. A Virgin Australia Boeing B-777-300ER also displayed.

With four or more hours of flying daily, which included many types of RAAF combat and training aircraft, warbirds, civilian demonstration flights, and aerobatics by Australian and American pilots made for a great week of aviation… especially with the rich diversity of aircraft, many not seen in North America regularly.

Looking Back at the 2002 Dover AFB Air Show

With no current air show activity taking place and nothing realistically happening in the foreseeable future, I could not think of a better time than now but to go through my archive of negatives and slides and start scanning images from airshows I attended prior to digital SLR’s.

I chose Dover AFB to be one of my first scanning projects for no other reason than I truly enjoy photographing at this location. The Dover AFB show back then always had a more relaxed feel than some of the more popular east coast shows like Andrews, McGuire and Oceana. Back in 2002 my camera of choice was a Nikon N90s SLR. Although not a professional camera this model performed as if it was, with a very solid feel, fast auto-focus and a stainless-steel lens mount. During the mid-1990’s the camera sold easily for over $1000. Unbelievably, today you can pick up used, one of these superb advanced auto-focus 35mm film cameras for about $50.

Back in my film days I mostly used Kodak Kodachrome 64 for my slides and Kodak Royal Gold 100 for negatives. The scanner I am using to convert the slides and negatives is an Epson Perfection V850 Pro, flatbed scanner, driven by SilverFast Ai Studio 8 software. I am new to both the hardware and software, but after spending time with the combination, I am able to get fairly good results. Although I will say that the quality of your scans is highly influenced by the lighting conditions of the image. Gray days often yield more grainy results.

Back in 2002 the Dover AFB airshow took place on May 26th and May 27th. The weather at the base was quite hazy over the two days but the sun did shine at times so it was not a total gray affair. The show featured the USAF Thunderbirds and the US Army Golden Knights. What you will notice on each of the Thunderbirds F-16’s is the “Let’s Roll” nose art. Let’s Roll is in reference to the famous words spoken by passenger Todd Beamer on board United Airlines Flight 93 as he led other passengers attempting to overthrow the hijackers on the 9/11/2001 flight, which was less than a year from the date of the Dover airshow. In addition to the Thunderbirds you will find “Lets’ Roll” nose art on the F-117 stealth fighter from Holloman AFB and the F-15C demo bird from Eglin AFB, both of which performed at Dover over the weekend.

Dale Snodgrass added to the variety and quality of the flying demonstration portion of the show with a single ship as well as joining up with the Eglin F-15C for the heritage flight, in an F-86 Sabre wearing USAF Skyblazers markings. Fowler Cary’s Thunderbird T-33 also participated in a flying demonstration that yielded good photographic opportunities.

Dover being a C-5 base provided an impressive display showing off their C-5B’s finesse and brute strength. Westover Air Reserve Base brought over their C-5A as well. Last but not least I must make mention that the US Navy rose to the occasion and truly provided one of the highlights of the show via an F-14D demo from VF-101 the Grim Reapers at Oceana Naval Air Station.

Looking back at this particular airshow at Dover in 2002 provided fond memories of an event that was conducted during quite uncertain times, being so close after the tragedy of 9/11. I am looking forward to future shows at Dover AFB when we can once again enjoy ourselves photographing and viewing the impressive displays in the air and on the ground, putting these current uncertain and challenging times behind us.

Howard German Random Warbirds #5


Avro Lancaster Mk. X operated by the Canadian Warbird Heritage, landing at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Here is our latest installment of our Random Warbird photos, enjoy!

Tora, Tora, Tora replica Kates and Val at Scott AFB.

N7227C Boeing B-17G-95-DL BU#78235 Texas Raiders Commemorative Air Force at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport.

Former Swiss Air Force Hawker Hunter Mk. 58 “Papyrus” at RAF Cottesmore.

Thunderbird Aviation Vought F-8K Crusader at MCAS El Toro, California.

Grumman A-6E Intruder at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

RAAF DHC-4 Caribou at Avalon, Australia.

C-47 over the Connecticut skies.

Douglas C-47 at Bridgeport, Connecticut.

DHC-2 Beaver at Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

P-51D Mustang at Rockland, Maine.

P-51D Mustang approaching Wiscasset, Maine.

P-51D at Wiscasset, Maine.

Grumman F-14A Tomcat BU# 158628 VF-211 Checkmates at Oshkosh Wisconsin.

Fuji LM-1s over the Titusville, Florida area during a TICO air show.

A trio of North American F-86/Canadair CL-13 Sabres over the runway at Nellis AFB, Nevada.

Stinson L-5 at Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Interstate S-1B1 (L-6 Grasshopper).

Mitsubishi A6M at Brunswick, Maine.

Same Mitsubishi A6M Zero at NAS Brunswick, Maine.

Convair YF-2Y Sea Dart at Lakeland, Florda.

LTV YA-7F Corsair II at Edwards AFB.

Beech C-45 at Manchester, New Hampshire.

Northrop AT-38B Talon at Otis ANGB, Massachusetts.

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Looking Back at the Tomcat’s Sunset at the 2006 NAS Oceana Air Show

The 2006 NAS Oceana Air Show was one of the major highlights (or lowlights, depending how you feel) for U. S. Naval aviation in the new Millennium. The show featured the beginning of the Sunset events for the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in American service.

The final operational F-14s were flying with VF-32, an Ocean-based Fighter Squadron, and a quartet of the swing-wing fighters flew each day of the air shows.

Hundreds of aviation photographers from around the world traveled to Virginia Beach, Virginia to witness the final public flights of the handful of remaining Tomcats, which would be fully retired just days after the air show.

The Fleet Flyby was and still is a highly anticipated formation flight with several different types of Naval aircraft joined up… in 2006 a dozen jets – 4 Tomcats, 4 F/A-18 (Legacy) Hornets, and 4 F-18E/F Super Hornets were all together at once… with a trailing “surprise” Hornet surprising everyone with a blistering fast pass soon after the big formation reached the far right of the air show spectator area.

There were more interesting events with historical significance too. Fat Albert – the Marine Corps KC-130T used by the Blue Angels, made a JATO takeoff during the shows… the JATO feature would be phased out three years later, so these departures were some of the final ones NAS Oceana would ever see.

The U.S. Navy Test Pilot School displayed one of the few remaining piston-engined aircraft active with the U.S. Navy too. A U-6 Beaver, utilized at the Test Pilots School, was on static display too.

An exciting group of warbirds made appearances, with a Starfighters F-104 jet ripping up the Navy base.

A Navy Legacy flight with a FG-1 Corsair, AD-4 Skyraider and VFA-106 F/A-18C Hornet also graced the Virginia Beach skies.

An Air Force F-117 flew, making multiple photo passes to show off its angular shape. The Air Force F-15 Eagle Demo Team also flew during the show, the Eagle was based at Langley AFB, “just down the road” from NAS Oceana.

This was truly a great aviation event for the public, with a large gathering of static-displayed military and civilian aircraft, in addition to a great flying display. While the Navy’s Grumman F-14 Tomcat had built quite a legacy while in service, the Sunset show was a worthy presentation to showcase the Tomcat’s final flying show surrounded with other memorable scenes.

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