Avalon Airshow 2007 – Day 8

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Another beautiful day at Avalon Airport – even better than yesterday. Today was my last day with the Airshow, working to help the remaining aircraft leave.

I arrived early and walked around taking some “early morning” photos of the large aircraft in the “keyhole” area and the combat jets on their tarmac. There were a couple of early folks getting ready to leave and I helped them organise fueling, take down barriers and so on.

The most “fun” was when I helped drag the Whitney Boomerang out of some soft ground. We’d parked it on grass in the corner of the warbird tarmac last night as the pilot had radio troubles and couldn’t leave. This morning, the main wheels were half-sunk into the soft earth. Ooops – didn’t think it was *that* soft when we parked it there…

The pilot and I wound up sitting under the wing (it’s a low wing – not much room) and rolling the wheels forward. We got both forward about 1/2 turn each and they were sinking again, so we hooked the tow bar into the nose wheel and with me pulling on that while the pilot went back to turning one of the wheels, we were able to pivot it out onto firmer ground, eventually getting it onto the tarmac itself. Whew.

Shortly after the Roulettes arrived, prepared their aircraft and left. The ground crew were wearing standard camo fatigues instead of their performance outfits but still went through the usual formation start-up and departure. Some of the photos I have will show the various ground crews from the Hornet, F-111 and Hawk teams in their standard camo fatigues that are being worn these days.

There were some escort duties including bringing the A-37 Dragonfly team in so they could prep their aircraft and then fly home. We also escorted the Roulette ground crew in to pick up their trailer and then head over to their two static display aircraft so they could prep them for travel.

The RAAF 707 left not long after then we wound up sitting in our vehicle on the tarmac waiting to get back to the warbird tarmac. We were in a queue behind a DC-3, Catalina, RAAF C-17 and 6 F-18’s. We couldn’t cut across the combat jet exit because they had an F-15 sitting there doing engine runs. Eventually we got through in time to help clear a couple of lighties, the last few warbirds and the RAAF Hawks (they’d moved over to the warbird tarmac before the F-15 could move out and block their exit).

The HARS Neptune left followed by the USAF C-17 and then the Super Constellation. The Connie’s brakes make an amazingly loud metal-on-metal sound – you can hear it for miles. Very distinctive.

About this time I wound up going over to Yellow section with Veggie in case they needed help clearing out their aircraft. They had everything under control so we sat and watched as a few lighties and a pair of Super Puma helicopters went past via Charlie to the runway.

Shortly after that, JD came back for us and dropped me off down in G1 (near the warbird tarmac) where a couple of lighties were getting ready to leave. We had some jets moving about plus Jetstar coming in and the RAF E-3 Sentry taxiing on the runway so we wanted to be sure the lighties were looked after. They had to monitor tower but didn’t want to drain their batteries so they switched off and I kept an ear open (I’d been monitoring tower frequency all airshow). When tower advised they could start up, I relayed the message and they got ready, heading out before the RAF E-3 came around.

The RAF E-3 was basically a 707 airframe with one of the giant radar dishes on the top. They’d been parked with the USAF E-3 up the other end of the airport and wound up taxiing down to Charlie and then around the loop to Bravo. Along the way they stopped and spent a bit of time inspecting the ground at a pedestrian/vehicle crossing (they were concerned about FOD) then slowly crawled around the loop with people out under their wingtips to ensure they wouldn’t hit anything on the edges. This caused some tension for ground ops as we’d already ensured the way was clear and we had a Jetstar aircraft that had landed and was back tracking on the runway to get to Charlie then follow the E-3 around the loop (delaying Jetstar is not an option).

They finally got around and were far enough forward that Jetstar could get into their terminal area and all without appearing to cause any delays. Eventually, the E-3 got on the runway, started to roll and wound up aborting their takeoff. They sat on the runway and did an engine run up to 80% power on their outboards. Something was still wrong though so they taxied all the way up the other end of the runway and off onto one of the taxiways. There they had to be towed around to the bottom of the runway as there was too much FOD for their liking. Last I’d heard about them, they’d completed a full engine run up and sorted out their hassles and were trying to get slotted back into the departures queue.

By this time, we’d finished with everything at Green and the last few were leaving Yellow. The USAF combat jets were still there but going back on Wednesday, a RAAF F-18 had a problem with its INS and a RAN Seahawk had a problem and couldn’t fly. The F-18, Seahawk and a Sea King wound up parked at the top of Bravo near the QANTAS maintenance hangars.

So, with all that, we headed back to AGO, handed in our equipment, said goodbye to everyone and headed for home. Another Avalon Airshow completed – three now for me (plus one as a spectator :) but others have done 6 to 8. Wow.

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