Looking Back at the Australian International Air Show of 2009
Looking Back at the Australian International Air Show and Trade Exibition of 2009
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 DeHavilland 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 presented 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.
More than four 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.