Wings Over Illawarra Airshow May 2014 Part 1

The annual Wings Over Illawarra airshow was held on May 4 2014 and for the first time since 2007, the flying program was nearly blown away. Strong and nearly constant winds hung around the NSW south coast all day and unfortunately impacted on the running of the airshow. This airshow was limited in what could fly, due to the crosswind on the runway was above many of the flying program aircraft specified operating safety limit. This issue possibly many of the general public may of not fully understood. A few firsts were also noted with this airshow as it was intending to be the first WOI airshow to allow full aerobatics and was also the first run by a private company instead of the previous combined WOI committee/HARS operations.

A slight lull in the wind appeared in the afternoon which then saw Stephen Gale’s S.211 Marchetti ex Singaporean Air Force trainer, Jeff Trappett’s former RAAF CAC Sabre jet and the RAAF’s two F/A-18B Hornets take off for flying displays. The aircraft were all seen to crab into the wind as the roared down the runway and crab more once airborne. Unlike past WOI airshows where the weather had been favourable for flying, this wind heavily limited aircraft to jets only, so none of the other popular aircraft took to the sky. The RAAF Roulettes team also remained on the ground.

Since limited by the wind, other warbirds that were due to fly but didn’t were then basically changed into static displays and included the Avenger, Catalina, L-39 and CAC Mustang. Noted on display at the airport were the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm who flown in a mix of their fleet types with a Seahawk, MRH-90 and a Squirrel helicopter. All of these were noted to attract a large influx of visitors with questions. The ADF had brought along a few training flight simulator displays which were popular with young and old members of the public

The other major attractions for the general public were a large range of aircraft on display which included the F-111, Hunter, Canberra, Vampires, a new Mosquito project in the development phase, C-47 Dakota, Neptune, T-6 Harvard, Winjeel, Paul Bennet Airshow Pitts and other civil aircraft. The local based Rural Fire Service had their Squirrel helicopter on public display along side their fire fighting vehicles.

Local merchandise sellers, food and local community groups stalls were seen to be doing much business during the day. Hopefully next year the windy weather wont be so strong and thus allow the airshow to fly its full schedule.

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Part 2 can be seen at

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Aerohunter warbird operations

Soaring above Cessnock and the surrounding Hunter Valley, doing loops, wing overs, barrel rolls and pulling Gs, is all in a days work for Aerohunter, as they take their customers through exhilarating aerobatic / combat manoeuvres, adventure rides or more relaxing and very interesting local scenic flights.

Operating originally from Cessnock Airport in the beautiful Hunter Valley, is a small and growing warbird business – Aerohunter. This business was formed in late 2010 by Dan O’Donnell. The concept is to allow customers to experience local scenic flight and safe aerobatics in a warbird trainer while under the full control of the front seat pilot. Because the business is only 2hrs from Sydney, it is possible for many people to easily come and fly at Aerohunter. In 2008 Dan bought a 1986 built Chinese CJ-6 Nanchang and then leased it to two other adventure flight operators. Seeing their success, Dan decided to form his own adventure flight business and started Aerohunter in late 2010. He used the Nanchang aerobatic trainer as the basis of this business. As the new business grew, Dan saw a need to acquire another aircraft to accommodate the growing customer market. This aircraft needed to be well suited to adventure and aerobatic rides. He decided to lease a Russian 1988 built Yak-52 in August 2012.

During 2013, Dan sold Aerohunter to well known aerobatic and warbird pilot, Paul Bennet. Paul, has for many years, been a well known and sought after pilot. Paul has created and developed the Paul Bennet Airshows (PBA) team, who has highly trained and safe members. The team flies thrilling, complex and safe aerobatic events at airshows around Australia and also globally. Over the last few years Paul has besides his aerobatic flying, acquired a few warbird aircraft which now form a niche collection ranging from a Cessna O-2, Tigermoth, WW2 era Wirraway trainer up to an Avenger. Paul’s decision to buy the Aerohunter business allows him to inject new warbird adventure rides into the solid and successful business plan started by Dan. Paul has chosen to form the new business with the Yak-52 alongside the Wirraway and Avenger, to allow people to take part in adventure rides. Flying in a WW2 Wirraway trainer or an Avenger torpedo bomber is not something that can be done readily as not many fly regularly or are permitted to take passenger for adventure rides. Additionally by adding the Wirraway and Avenger, Paul has created a very niche warbird and adventure ride experience in NSW.

Since 2010 nearly 1,000 customers have flown with Aerohunter. They have had fun and thrilling experiences over the last few years. The Aerohunter business is marketed via their webpage, Facebook page, on the Adrenalin webpage and by customer’s word of mouth. Such has been the interest in Aerohunter that it has also appeared on TV in Jan/Feb 2012 in an episode of the “Excess Baggage” show. The aircraft have been flown every few weekends as this when the flying is mainly booked in by the customers. In late 2013 Paul appointed Glenn Graham – who is also a member of the PBA team- to operate and manage the expanded business. Aerohunter intends to now operate the warbird adventure flights not only from Cessnock airport but also Rutherford airport. The aircraft are maintained and overhauled as needed by Matt Webber at Luskintyre Aircraft Restoration and by Cameron Rolph Smith at Performance Aero. A growing issue for any business in the aviation community is that flying is becoming more complex and harder to operate in some areas such as over the Hunter, due to noise restrictions and build up of population density around airports. Another very major issue is the rising cost of fuel has a constant impact on operational costs. With the recent change of ownership Dan remains involved with the ongoing development of the Aerohunter operations. Dan sold his CJ-6 Nanchang in 2013 to another enthusiast.

The basis of Aerohunter’s success to date has been its focus on the satisfaction of customers who they take up for their flights. Aerohunter employs highly skilled pilots which further adds to the overall feeling of safety for the customer. The customer is the focus, not the pilot. With a range of flights on offer, flights can be tailored to the customer’s requests and needs. For customers it is literally an adrenalin rush. It is huge fun with an ever changing and interesting view from in the back seat. Customers experience military style flight missions and manoeuvres or can fly around on a scenic flight to Newcastle Hunter or Nelson Bay. Before going up all passengers are put through a briefing to explain the aircraft and its systems and the associated risks they are to take on by flying in a Limited category warbird aircraft. All customers need to sign waivers before they take their adventure rides. Customers are fitted out with a supplied flight suit for the flight and a headset is available for use in the aircraft. Aerohunter is becoming so popular that it has taken up 16 people on one day in 2013. With a few years of operations, it is noted that the average customer is a 30-40yr male. However their age can range from 8-94yrs and includes a growing segment of women seeking a thrilling experience. Bookings need to be 1-2 months in advance due to the popularity and limited operational days.

A look at some of the Aerohunter fleet –
YAK-52 – First designed in the 1970’s the Yak is still being manufactured and used by many Air Forces all over the world. Very similar to the Nanchang in appearance, the Yak 52 was designed with one thing in mind – aerobatics! Over 1,800 of the aircraft have been manufactured with the super-charged M14P engine generating 360 Hp. With its long straight wing and span length ailerons, it can roll at over 180 degrees per second and snap roll even faster. The Yak uses steel in its construction and has external rivets. The Yak-52 is noted as a more aggressive type aircraft which is better designed for handling aerobatics and harder flying. Being a Russian aircraft design, it is easy to acquire parts but takes a while for parts to be shipped in from overseas.

CAC WIRRAWAY – Having served during WW2 and gained its fame as a pilot maker and light attack aircraft, the Wirraway is nowadays a popular warbird in Australia. The RAAF Wirraway trainer was developed from the NA-16 with a license issued by North American Aircraft with Wirraway production starting in 1939. During WW2 the RAAF used the aircraft type in operational training and also as a makeshift light bomber/ ground attack roles. It also formed the basis for the CAC Boomerang fighter. Production continued post war until 1946 and when ended, 755 Wirraways had been built The last RAAF Wirraway was delivered to the RAAF in July 1946. The aircraft is powered by an R-1340 600hp radial engine, with a top speed of 220mph. The Wirraway is able to handle aerobatics displays involving loops and barrel rolls. There are other Wirraways flying in Australia but they don’t do aerobatics adventure rides. There also some static, preserved Wirraways in various museums.

In order to understand the capabilities of these adventure ride aircraft, the author took part in a 15min flight in the CJ-6 Nanchang in 2012. Another 15min flight was taken in 2013 in the Wirraway.

NANCHANG – With the CJ-6 Nanchang experience flying from Cessnock, pilot Dan O’Donnell started with a preflight briefing, a walk around and after I squeezed into the back seat the aircraft was started up. With a few flicks and a start of the generator, the HS-6A engine roared into life and soon after the Nanchang ambled along the Cessnock taxiways. Not long after we were leaping into the air and climbing to the west of the airfield for the assigned aerobatic “box”. For the next 10 minute Dan guided me thro what he was doing with the controls. He showed me various turns, barrel rolls, loops and then introduced me to G-forces and my first ever experience of weightlessness. Also performed were some military manoeuvres including immelmans, cuban eights and a graceful stall turn. Handling up to 5-6G was quite an experience. It had been a while since I last did a full on aerobatic flight and I was surprised to be able to handle all the manoeuvres without blacking out. The sheer fun of feeling the weightless and G forces made it really an amazing experience for me.

WIRRAWAY – The flight with Paul Bennet at the controls, in the Wirraway was interesting as it allowed me to see how a 1940’s aircraft compared to the 1986 built Nanchang. The Wirraway is devised around a hydraulic pump system and before the flight Paul explained how the aircraft systems work such as flap, gear and engine and what was required by the pilot to operate these. The internal cockpit framing structure which acts like a roll bar assured me I felt safe. The flight in the Wirraway saw Paul start up the R-1340 engine, do checks, then taxiing and off we roared down the runway and into the air. The Wirraway I noted was faster than the Nanchang, quite stable and also a roomy aircraft. I was able to see how it handled loops, barrel rolls, wing overs and half Cuban eights with ease. The rear seat had all the necessary instruments and I could watch as Paul turned with the turn and bank gauge and climbed or dived on the altimeter. The experience enabled me to also understand what military pilots in WW2 and post war faced flying a Wirraway.

Photos here show my flight in Dan’s CJ-6 Nanchang in 2012.

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Here we see Paul’s Wirraway and my flight in 2013.

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Both of these immensely interesting experiences showed me that adventure flying is indeed safe and exciting. It allows the passenger in the rear seat to watch the flight with a unique perspective and it is why so many people have done these types of flights now there is availability. I highly recommend warbird adventure flights for anyone who ever wanted to fly in a warbird but didn’t know it was possible.

If you wish to learn more about Aerohunter adventure rides or Paul Bennet Airshows please visit and

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March 1 and 2 2014 at RAAF Williams, Point Cook, Victoria, Australia, saw the world’s oldest continually operated military air base host a once in life time event – its 100th anniversary which also at same time commemorated the first official military flight in Australia.

100 years ago the only aircraft based at Point Cook was the Bristol Boxkite and BE.2 biplane. Both were the frontline tip spear of the then fledging RAAF which was called the Central Flying School or CFS. The base at Point Cook had been chosen after some discussions and flying operations got underway on 7.40am March 1 1914. At that time a Boxkite took to the air on what would then become the first stepping stone to the RAAF.

Point Cook is the founding basis which stretches from the beginning of the first flight, to  WW1, the official creation of the Royal Australian Air Force in 1921, to peacetime development and expansion, the brutal operations of WW2, Korea, further expansion in 1950s, the Vietnam War, peace keeping operations in 1970s-current, Gulf War operations in 2003 and to current situation, where the RAAF is a force undergoing change to a high tech, dynamic and long range defence force.

The Centenary of Military Aviation airshow saw flying from 10am  – 330pm. The flying program saw the replica Boxkite fly both days, alongside nearly every ADF aircraft type that was currently flying in Australia from propeller, jet and helicopters which covered trainers, observation, transport, fighters, tankers, maritime and helicopters. Civil and military heritage flight and civil owned warbird aircraft also flew, thus adding a unique chance for the public to see the advances in flights over the 100years.

Alongside the flying displays was a large ground display which kept the public busy. Many interesting and varied setups saw static aircraft, various heritage displays and business exhibitors in the halls.  Also present were RAAF fire fighters, RAAF ground defence/air defence, RAAF air traffic control, RAAF communications operations, RAAF band military working dogs and the RAAF Museum displays.

The airshow was also the official launch for the RAAF’s new general everyday purpose uniform, a blue/grey camouflage design uniform which will replace the standard Auscam  uniform, except in warzones.

Supporting the RAAF, the Australian Army sent various helicopters, as did the Royal Australian Navy.

I would like to thank the RAAF Public Affairs team for their generous support and help and more importantly acknowledge the ADF members who gave their time to ensure this airshow was a success. From an aviation viewpoint, it would be wonderful to see Point Cook have a dedicated airshow on a regular basis so that the base’s history is kept alive.

Below seen is a overview of the RAAF Williams base on the Sunday (Photo credit RAAF)

Centenary of Military Aviation

My photos are shown below

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Sydney – NYE 2013/2014 photos

2013/2014 – Sydney New Year Eve firework show was as usual …..spectacular and interesting. With a cloud overcast and windy cold weather somewhat feeling…still over a million people to the harbour….. as usual….

It was very crowded but I was really really lucky and somehow got a great front row seat… So here is my view of the night…and aspects of people celebrating.

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Xmas lights in Northern Sydney

I spent a few hours last week driving around northern Sydney photoing lights people had put up on display outside or on top of their homes. Many other people also were out and about photoing the xmas lights. I covered from Pennant Hills, Thornleigh, Westleigh and into Hornsby Heights to get a broad range of different aspects.

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Leigh “Laddie” Hindley grew up in the 1930s in Goulburn, NSW. Finishing school in 1941, Laddie decided to join the Australian Imperial Force. His parents thought the RAAF would be more suitable. After initial medical checks in April 1942 he was accepted into the RAAF and was sent to Victoria to start aircrew training.


With high test scores and ready ability to learn the elements of flying, Laddie was selected to become an aircrew member. He learned ground school and how to understand the basics of flying aircraft. He was then posted to the Elementary Flying School base at Temora where he learned to fly on the DeHavilland Tigermoth. Time was spent half and half on ground school and then flying. Laddie soon learned that the Tigermoth was a near viceless aircraft going solo after 10.5hrs. He worked up 65hrs by the time he left Temora. After successfully passing his initial flight training he went to Uranquinty for further pilot training, where he began flying the Wirraway trainer.


4 months later in 1943 he passed the training course and was given his pilot wings and the rank of Sergeant.


He then went to Mildura for the Operational Training Unit (OTU) where he learnt to fly his first fighter – the P-40 Kittyhawk. He gained skills such as dive bombing, strafing and dogfighting. After he was qualified on the P-40 Kittyhawk he was assigned to 80 Sqn at Townsville. Here more training and close co-operation with the army took place.


In February 1944 the squadron was deployed to the Pacific Campaign in Papua New Guinea. Laddie came face to face with the horrors of war and losing friends.



He participated in many bombing missions and combat air patrols which inflicted damage to the well entrenched Japanese military.


In November 1944 his posting to the squadron ended and he was transferred to RAAF Point Cook to be trained as an instructor.



Back in Australia Laddie was found to be suffering malaria and given treatment. He was sent once well enough to RAAF base Richmond to join the Test and Ferry flight unit. New NAA P-51 Mustangs were being sent to RAAF units in Horn Island and Borneo. Laddie flew these some of the Mustangs to their new units. He flew back to Australia in worn out and under maintained P-40 Kittyhawks which was a big risk. He then joined a fighter affiliation unit at RAAF base Tocumwal until the wars end in September 1945.  Post war he did a 5 year electrical trades course, gaining even more skills.


In 1951 the RAAF advertised for aircrew and Laddie again leapt at this opportunity to return to the skies. He was given refresher training and posted to 87 Sqn Photo Reconnaissance RAAF base Fairbairn, Canberra. He flew missions taking photos for mapping and surveys in NSW and WA.


In 1951 he was posted to an exchange RAF unit in Singapore where he undertook more command training.


He returned to WA after finishing the exchange and did more Mosquito photo work, including around PNG. In 1953 the squadron was decommissioned and Laddie returned to RAAF base East Sale for more flying instructor work. He was reposted to his former airfield of Uranquinty to train new pilots. By 1956 he had done further administration work as Officer in Charge of aircrew training in Victoria and had also completed some more flying at Tocumwal.


His next posting was to 36 Sqn at RAAF base Richmond to fly the C-47 Dakota transport. He flew missions into many airfields across Australia and PNG. One mission in 1957 saw Laddie fly a C-47 over South Australia on a sample mission to monitor the British nuclear test “Antler” at Maralinga. Laddie, along with all onboard, was wearing only shorts and shirt with no radiation gear for protection. He also flew in Malaysia at RAAF base Butterworth doing transport missions in the region. By 1961 he was flight commander at 38 Sqn at RAAF base Richmond and was very proficient in leading and flying the C-47 in its varied roles.


In late 1961 he took up training on the new UH-1B Iroquois/Huey helicopter then being introduced into RAAF service.  He was posted to RAAF Amberley for initial training and went to the USA to learn how to fly the Huey. In 1962 he returned to Australia to 9 Sqn at RAAF Fairbairn. Training was conducted for aircrews on the new helicopters and they soon proved their worth in rescuing people from flooded towns and helping with civil repairs.


By 1964 the war in Vietnam was heating up and Laddie submitted a plan to train RAAF aircrew in case they were to be sent to the warzone.  Hueys and their crews went to PNG and Malaysia for tropical training. He was then posted to 5 Sqn at RAAF Butterworth On returning home he was again back to 9 Sqn.


With the war escalation in Vietnam, the Hueys went to provide support for the Army. Laddie was sent to South Vietnam in 1966.


The most common role was moving of troops around the province and assisting the SAS on insertions and extractions. Laddie flew Hueys spraying “Agent Orange” herbicides. He was present at the Battle of Long Tan and was part of the RAAF air support to D Company, 6 RAR who were fighting the Viet Cong. He and other pilots dropped off supplies and ammunition to ground troops. He completed his tour of South Vietnam and retuned to RAAF Fairbairn as flight commander. In December 1967 he was tasked to search for then Prime Minister Harold Holt, missing in the ocean off Victoria.


Laddie retired from the RAAF in February 1968 and did his CPL licenses. He was much in demand due to his extensive helicopter flying experience and went to fly in PNG. For the next 9years he flew in PNG as a contracted pilot moving geologists/mine staff around for mine surveys, ferrying parts and supplies around in helicopters such as the Bell 47, Bell 206 and Lama.


In 1978 he returned to Australia flying around NSW and WA doing varied missions in Hughes 500. In one task he flew to Witternoon, WA where he landed, unknowingly in an asbestos dust cloud stirred up by the rotor downwash. He finished flying in Australia in 1981 and again went to fly in PNG for the Police Dept where had dangerous and tough missions.  He left the PNG Police work and was back into mining support from 1986 until 1989 when he finally ended his flying career, at age 66. The end saw over 18,000 hours plus many varied aircraft and helicopter types in his log books.


Laddie’s book “The Joys and Dangerous of an Aviation Pilot” was written at nearly 90 years of age and is extremely candid and powerful with very interesting insights into how dangerous and intense wartime and civil flying can be. The book published by the Office of Air Force History, was a winner of the 2012 RAAF Heritage Award. This is an amazing outcome, for when it is considered that at a younger age Laddie never had an ambition to ever become a pilot.

Shown below are some recent photos of Laddie, at his book release and with some veterans.

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Thanks to the Office of Air Force History – APDC especially Martin James and Adam Braakman for their kind assistance in making this happen.

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Darwin, capital of the Northern Terrirtory has played an important part in the history of aviation within Australia, with numerous historical events taking place. One of the earliest was in 1919 when a Vickers Vimy landed and won the first prize for achieving the first flight from England to Australia to be done in under 30 days. As aviation developed across the world, Darwin and the Northern Territory became the known as the “Northern Gateway to Australia”. Having such large distances to fly over, meant that for many years Australia led the world in pioneering the art of long distance aviation. The 1920s and 30s saw many famous aviation personalities pass through the Top End as they toured Australia, including Amy Johnson, Amelia Erhardt, Bert Hinkler and Charles Kingsford Smith. By 1940s the war clouds were looming and unfortunately Darwin became the first target of the Japanese offensive in Australia. A large series of attacks by Japanese forces located in Indonesia saw many bombing missions over Darwin occur from 1942 onwards. The number of fighters and bombers used in the attacks were in some cases larger than the attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii in 1941. Sadly hundreds of Australians were killed during theses raids. Darwin, shipping in the harbour and the many military bases suffered significant losses. As a result of Darwin being attacked, the RAAF dispersed fighter and bomber units outside Darwin to many roadside airstrips, along with camp sites. Relics from the war can be seen with many aircraft wrecks and scattered over the north of NT. As the war progressed Darwin airport became a major airbase housing fighters and bombers. Many parts of Darwin still show signs of war damage and are left as a reminder to the scars and horrors of warfare. After WW2 aviation returned to Darwin and saw Qantas using Darwin as an overnight stop for their Lockheed Constellation aircraft flying the famous “Kangaroo route” to London. Due to fast moving developments in aviation, Darwin was at times isolated from international aviation due to its location far from other populated Australian cities. In the 1960s the Cold War saw a Bloodhound Surface to Air Missiles detachment located to Darwin to protect the city from overflights of Indonesian bombers. The RAAF has also deployed at times fighters such as Sabre, Mirage and since 1980s F/a-18 Hornets fighters to bases in the Northern Territory.  In the 1970s civil and military aviation played an important role after the Cyclone Tracy destroyed Darwin in December 1974, in assisting with evacuating people, establishing communications and bringing in aid and supplies into Darwin. Darwin’s long runway and tropical climate has seen the airport host aviation manufacturers when they have conducted tropical trials of aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and Concorde.  Darwin airport is also known for the various military air exercises with the best known and large Pitch Black also staged there. These exercises can see many different air forces flying out of Darwin with aircraft from USA, Singapore and Indonesia taking part. Many civil airlines now fly into and out of Darwin airport as the city becomes a tourist destination. A growing GA and warbird community is also located at the airport.

Darwin’s Australian Aviation Heritage Centre

With such a rich and varied history, it was expected that Darwin would need some kind of aviation museum to preserve and display history. The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre was built to preserve and showcase the connection of aviation to Darwin. Located at the northern end of Australia, 8km from Darwin’s city centre, the heritage museum is located within a former WW2 warzone – Darwin Airport. Starting in 1976 with a group of aviation enthusiasts who wanted to preserve aviation and relics salvaged after the destructive Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, they decided to make a basis of a future collection. The collection grew and a managing society was formed, the Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory to co-ordinate the projects. By the late 1980s they had acquired a storage yard at the airport leased from the NT Government. The society took some time to  negotiate with the United States Air Force and the Northern Territory Government to obtain a Boeing B-52G bomber on permanent loan from the USAF and to build a museum to house and display it. By 1990 the museum was opened and now forms the basis for current collection display and future work projects. This building is unique aspect as it is the largest single span building in the Northern Territory. The work by the Society over the year has ensured that a unique and interesting aircraft collection which tells the civil and military side to operations in northern Australia is on public display. From small WW2 wreckage to the towering B-52G Stratofortress – this museum collection has something for everyone. Many heritage displays of pilot items and maps throughout the museum will help enable people to learn about the role of aviation in Darwin since the 1900s. A large bookshop is also stocked full of many good books, clothing items and model kits for enthusiasts to buy. The collection includes the B-52G Stratofortress, Wessex helicopter, Huey Cobra helicopter, replica Spitfire fighter, Sabre jet, F-111A/C, Mirage jet, MU-2, Tigermorth, Heron airliner, partial B-25 Mitchell and many wreckage components from WW2 such as Boomerang, Liberators, Kittyhawk, Zeros, Catalina and engines. Mk82 series bombs are on display with snakeye fins deployed on one model.The B-52 is one of only 3 on public display outside of the USA and was a very special gift for the museum. A unique combined water tower and control tower, once part of the RAAF base is standing tall nearby. Aspects of the connection civil airlines formed in helping to connect Darwin to rest of Australia are seen with Qantas and Ansett displays. Visit for more information on the museum and news –

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Located at the Royal Australian Navy base HMAS Albatross about 10km from Nowra, on the NSW south coast, is a multi million dollar heritage museum housing the extensive collection of the Royal Australian Navy aviation operations – the Fleet Air Arm Museum. The museum encompasses the naval aviation heritage from WW1 to the present. Many may not know that HMAS Albatross since it was created in 1941, has seen the RAAF, the USAAC, the Royal Navy, the RNZAF and the RAN operate from the base. With such a diverse history it is quite surprising to learn that it wasn’t until the 1970s that a basis for the museum was founded, when efforts to start to preserve the RAN aviation heritage began. A few RAN members managed to form a team and acquired some of the derelict airframes around on the base and some spare buildings surplus. They then began to create a museum area and sorting out the large history into some kind of displayable order. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that real progress came in achieving the goal of long term preservation of the RAN heritage, when the team who were pushing for a dedicated museum were able to raise enough funding. They managed to acquire funds from various private donors, corporate donors and from materials donated by companies, to enable the construction of a $8m large hangar, function centre and a gift shop. The first stage of the museum was opened in 1990 to house some of the aircraft under cover and it has since then expanded and become a world class museum attraction. In order to run the museum, the Australian Naval Aviation Museum Foundation was established. The reason the museum exists is to ensure the rich naval heritage from WW1 items to WW2 actions in Pacific and Europe through to Korea, Vietnam and the more recent Middle Eastern operations are not lost but displayed. Some interesting facts which some may not know about the RAN aviation past is that the WW I era cruiser, HMAS Sydney, was the first warship in the world to launch an onboard fighter that engaged an enemy bomber. Another fact is that the aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne, was the first operational aircraft carrier in the world to have mounted and used operationally – the angled flight deck, the landing mirror and the steam catapult. Other navy aircraft carriers might have had one or two of these technologies retro-fitted after WW2 but HMAS Melbourne was the world’s first operational carrier with all three in use. With development and expansion in the 1990s, it saw a need to be renamed and in 2000 the museum was changed to Australia’s Museum of Flight. Its role was then expanded to displaying artefacts related to Australian aviation such as adding several civil aircraft and some foreign aircraft. In 2006, the Royal Australian Navy took over the running and this saw a more appropriate name chosen – with the Fleet Air Arm Museum title used. The current FAA museum boasts a two level exhibition centre, many photos, models and artworks in the 6,000 m2 of display rooms, cafe, function centre, theatre and access to an outdoor airfield viewing platform. Visit for more information –

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