The Yarram Centenary of Flight

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The Yarram Centenary of Flight on 17.3.2018 celebrated 100 years of flight in Yarram, in particular the first war operation of military aircraft in Australia, in commemorating the search for the German commerce Raider SMS Wolf. A Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b "Battleplane", serial A778, presented to the Commonwealth by Mr A M Simpson, was sent on detachment from Point Cook (then the Australian Military Forces' Central Flying School) to join the search off the Victorian coast for the German ship. Captain Frank McNamara, V.C., was appointed Officer Commanding, Air Reconnaissance, South Gippsland. McNamara flew reconnaissance missions off the coast, and probably deserved a second decoration for flying beyond sight of land in an aircraft with very marginal performance! During this operation, the F.E. suffered a serious accident demanding significant repairs at Yarram, in the first war operation conducted in Australia. ClassicWarbirds.net has researched the operation in the Australian Archives and attended this event as seen in the accompanying photo folio.

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This airshow demonstrates a new concept in airshow organisation being offered to regional communities. Paul Bennet Airshows is headed by 44 year old Paul Bennet who is an Australian aerobatic pilot. He has placed first in the Australian Aerobatic Championships in both the Advanced and Unlimited category and is an experienced airshow performer both in Australia and internationally. Bennet's aeroplane, the Wolf Pitts Pro biplane, was originally built by Steve Wolf of Wolf Aircraft for Wyche T. Colman III and its engine is claimed to produce more than 400 horsepower. The Wolf Pitts Pro weighs 1200 pounds and is equipped with a unique set of wings that give the aircraft a roll rate of 350 degrees per second. The tail on the aeroplane is modeled after the tail used on high-performance radio control aircraft.

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Other aerobatic aircraft models include Pitts, Rebel and Yak-52 while he also demonstrates his warbirds: Avenger, Wirraway, Trojan, L-5 and O-2. The airshow displays are packaged and may include other invitees, perhaps types significant to the commemoration. The community/aero club etc will supply volunteers for traffic management, ticketing (run through a web site) and ground staffing.

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Other interesting attendees on the day included: • the "Invasion Striped", newly delivered Royal Australian Air Force Pilatus PC-21 new trainers. Shown in 2FTS, Pearce WA markings ("this is not the Roulettes"), these are some of the 42 PC-21 aircraft which will be used as trainers at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria (RAAF Central Flying School) and RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia, replacing the earlier Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft. The RAAF Roulettes are the Royal Australian Air Force's aerobatic display team have become a six aircraft, seven member team which completes two display seasons each year (a season runs for six months).This four-ship demo (a first for the Australian public) was a pleasant surprise for many. For the spotter, the serials were: A54-002, -003, -004 and -006

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• Former RAAF Squadron Leader, Instructor at CFS (and Roulettes leader) Jeff Trappett's beautiful Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation CA-27 Sabre and Douglas DC-3 (presented as an AC-47 "Spooky" gunship) were also demonstrated. • Vans RV-3, VH-EZM certainly turned a few heads in an eye-catching Blue Angels scheme

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• DH-82 Tiger Moth, Victa Airtourer and Judy Pay's beautifully maintained Commonwealth Mustang • Any good country airshow will have numbers of locals turn up in their (often rarely seen) light aircraft, and a good selection were flown (or parked) here. Some were quite entitled to be considered antiques!

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The weather was typically Australian late summer: warm, dry, dusty with clear blue skies. Definitely great for photography and it must be said, a superbly accessible airshow for the many aviation spotters seen there during our visit. Photorecon hopes this airshow might become a regular on the Aussie airshow calendar!

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