RAAF WILLIAMTOWN AIR SHOW REPORT – Sept 2010

SEPT 2010 – A large (and well received by the general public) airshow was held by the RAAF at its main fighter base, RAAF WILLIAMTOWN on September 18 / 19 2010.

A large variety of RAAF aircraft, displays and stalls were present. A few of these displays held great interest for me as they were related to flying safety and flightgear. My own flightgear display was planned but due to a few issues i had to decline at the last moment. (The 2011 RAAF airshow i hope to be present at all going well…)

I have created this latest article with flightgear and airshow displays to give the worldwide audience a better understanding of the RAAF airshow in detail.

Click the photos for better detail.

FLIGHTGEAR / ALSE DISPLAYS

F-111C escape capsule display – This capsule was from a F-111C that crashed in New Zealand in the 1970s. The F-111 prototypes had ejection seats initially but after production began these were removed in F-111A design plans and the capsule used instead. This change eliminates the need for ejection seats and associated harnesses. The crew just literally “clip” the F-111 on themselves…

When the F-111 crew wishes to eject, the crew pull the ejection handles, which trigger the rocket packs to then blow capsule clear of the airframe. A parachute then deploys (which are located behind the cockpit on the top fuselage) and allow the capsule to float to the ground.
On sea ejections, the bladders deploy enabling it to float.

This capsule on display was from the RAAF Amberley based heritage aviation museum which has a slowly growing museum collection, which they hope one day can be opened to the general public.

The capsule as shown on a operational F-111C attached to the airframe.

A static F-111 TF-30 turbofan jet engine on display

A F-111C aircrew member with a RAAF issued CWu-27/P flight suit and associated RAAF patches.

3 Sqn RAAF ALSE display – The RAAF was again promoting the use of ALSE gear via a excellent display layout to interest, encourage and explain to the the general public as to how the aircrew survive when flying or need to eject.

I have a mate in this very squadron whose ALSE role is to repair and overhaul the flightgear. We have known each other for quite a few years and had a good gossip chat at the airshow.

A LRU-18/P life raft

A mannequin with current RAAF 3 Sqn flight gear

Various examples of RAAF issued flight helmets. A HGU-55/P flight helmet with MBU-2o/P oxygen masks. The helmet with a black visor cloth cover is a JHMCS helmet with target / hud hardware electronics installed in the raised visor fixture.

A F/A-18 Hornet SJU-5/6 ejection seat with its parachute deployed and a display of the pilot’s survival vest and associated contents.

F/A-18 ejection seat display – SJU-5/6 -The ejection seat display was last seen by me at Avalon in 2008 i recall as a great idea.. hence i got my idea to acquire an ejection for airshow as well. It is a hit with kids and adults as they can see what it is like for a pilot to sit in a jet for hours at a time.
Trying on a flight helmet for photos maybe gives a kid that sparkle in the eye to one day become a fighter pilot maybe or a ALSE technician.

The drogue and main parachute unpacked

RAAF 76 Sqn Bae Hawk jet trainer Martin Baker Mk 10 ejection seat display –

Some of the aircraft seen on show – static and flying.

RAAF DISPLAYS
Everyone eyes at Williamtown was focused on the F-111C – last ever chance to see it on public RAAF display and flying in formations.

F/A-18A HUG Hornet with ….. colourful tail markings – which are finally over last few years making a comeback…

A F/A-18F Super Hornet which is to replace the F-111C in the Strike role by end of 2010…
(Not long after i took the photo i was interviewed by a Newcastle Herald newspaper journalist – http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/top-speed-skills-dazzle-air-show-crowds/1945991.aspx – for his opinons on the pilot/aircraft – only 2 people and i was one of them – made it into the newspaper article out of 52,000 people who attended the airshow….).

It was good to see interservice rivalry alive and well – a RAAF3sqn Hornet pilot hams it up for the cameras with a RAAF 1 Sqn Super Hornet pilot for a poster signature. It is good that they have a sense of humour and still remain on good terms :). Some interservice rivalry stretches back a long time…

Canberra CAC Mk.20 bomber – A unusual aircraft to be found on the base, this bomber used to be at Temora aviation museum but was acquired by 2 Sqn as a display for their base building.
2 Sqn used the RAAF Canberra bomber from 1955 until 1982. They were used by the RAAF in Malaya and Vietnam wars.
My friend was a bombaider/navigator in the Vietnam war deployment and he was found often in the nose aiming the bomb drops on the ground targets. The aircraft will hopefully be restored in a Vietnam camoflague scheme as seen on the tail marked up.

2 Sqn reformed a few years ago and is now found at RAAF Williamtown, where it is now operating the Boeing 737 Wedgetail AWACS aircraft for airborne surveilliance missions.

RAN
The classic naval helicopter – the Sea King is still in service but could be retired from service by this time next year after nearly 35years of use.

The SH-60B Seahawk is a popular crowd favourite too.

Macchi jet trainer – MB-326 – a friend of mine once used to work on these as a technican and i was lucky to see this airframe on the base in 1996 in a tour up close. It is great the RAAF has kept the aircraft intact in a colourful paint scheme.

C-130J Hercules – 37 Sqn transport aircraft in service since 2000. Replaced the C-130E Hercules which did 35 years service.

WARBIRDS
A large warbird contingent was present – 4 x CAC Mustangs, Hudson bomber, Catalina flying boat, Spitfire, CAC Winjeel trainers, CAC Sabre jet, , CT-4 trainers, CAC Boomerang , Gloster Meteor and L-39 Albatross jet trainer.

RAAF Museum CAC Mustang with the Caboolture Mustang next to it in the background

CAC Mustang, L-39 Albatross and CAC Winjeel

The nearby based Fighterworld Museum Mirage twin seater jet was on display – one of these sleek jets is under restoration in Victoria, Australia to hopefully refly within next 2years.

HARS main fleet was in attedance – C47 Dakota, Catalina flying boat, Neptune and Constellation

CT-4 “Plastic Parrots” flocked in as well

Hudson bomber, 0-2 Skymaster , Spitfire, Sabre and Meteor fighters from the Temora Aviation Museum

FLYING DISPLAYS

RAAF F-111C
Various fly bys and formations were done …

Look closely at the “Dump and Burn” and you will see the flame is nearly as long as the F-111 itself… around 25m at times…very very big

RAAF F/A-18
Note a very very interesting loadout – asymetric fuel tanks – not commonly seen on aircraft

A regular airshow event over last decade or so, a quarter of Hornets flying close formation

SPECIAL HERITAGE FORMATION FLIGHTS
A much appreciated by public is over last few years a new display act, where the RAAF and warbird operator are staging mass formations to honour the RAAF heritage of fighters and bombers and maybe one day transports.
These formations enable people to see how RAAF has changed over 70years and see the comparison in size of platforms.

RAAF BOMBER FORMATION
This formation had a Hudson bomber, F-111C, Boomerang, Meteor, Mustang and Hornet to represent the bomber force of the RAAF.

RAAF FIGHTER FORMATION
Mustangs Spitfire, Sabre, Hawk and Hornet

WARBIRDS
RAAF Museum CAC Mustang with shark mouth showing as it rolls in for a pass

Temora’s Sabre jet

Temora Meteor painted as a Korean War 77sqn aircraft

HARS ex RAAF Neptune with 1960s paint scheme

OTHERS
RAN SH-60 Seahawk

OTHER DISPLAYS

RAAF Williamtown has existed for a long time and was active in WW2. It is only in last 10years that a large general aviation need for Newcastle has emerged and a seperate civil side was created across the runway. This kind of setup is unique in Australia as most RAAF base are restricted and off limits to public. So by visiting Williamtown, you can see civil and military aircraft in the same airspace.

Virgin Blue Boeing 737 taxiing to take off at end of the airshow.

A Jetstar Airbus A320 takes off.

A USAF KC-135R tanker was on base next to the big “bird bath” wash rack, which is used to clean the fighters and other aircraft after flying throu the salt ladden air off the NSW coast.

RAAF Bae Hawk Adour jet engine on maintenance stand

Here the blog author is seen at the EOD display – holding a 2.75 FFAR for size and trying on heavy EOD army gear fieldgear. (He spent 4years in a Australian army cadet unit 20years ago, so he fondly remebers this kind of gear)

Part of the EOD display had an interesting item – a CBU-58 cluster sub munition on display.
Since the RAAF never used this cluster bomb weapon, it is rare to see on show.

It is used as for training by the EOD teams tho , as the bomblet which i held is commonly found overseas. These EOD teams could be sent overseas, where the EOD skills maybe needed to defuse such items.
Many people in Asia have suffered from these bomblets, due to extensive use in the Vietnam war. The small bomblets can easily blow off legs and arms when set off.

A variety of other weapons was shown that could be potentially found in a field to defuse.

A heavy and hot suit to wear in EOD work, especially places like Afghanistan/Iraq

It seemed that Darth Vader and his troopers had “commanded?” the C-17 Globemaster for transport uses – was an interesting sight…

The day ended ….with a 1 Sqn F/A-18F “gaggle” depature up close on the taxiway –

Screaming away in afterburner – very very loud :0)

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