Tyabb Airshow 2106

Sopwith PupWell, Tyabb Airshow has come and gone for another 2 years – and what a great show it was!

The day started out a bit grey and gloomy, at least it was when I arrived at 0700 to open up our hangar and organise our planes. By that time, the airfield was already buzzing with people setting up and preparing for the day. Next to our hangar were Avia Aviation, Cirrus agents for Australia, and main sponsors East Link (motorway) as well as a welcome coffee van.

Next door to us in hangar 10, a P51 Mustang is being restored and although the engine has yet to return from the States after re-building, the Mustang had its cowlings on and really looked the part. To add to the fun, the Mustang Car Club rounded up about a dozen varieties of convertible and coupé Mustang cars to surround the aircraft. They also had a 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Merlin engine on display – an engine used in the Spitfire and Hurricane WWII fighters, as well as in the P51. Next to it was a Mustang car V8 engine which did look rather small next to its aero-engine companion!

The cloud base was high enough for the flying display to start on time at around 1230 and we were treated to an almost unending procession of wonderful old warbirds, from Sopwith Pup and Snipe, right through to the huge C-17 Globemaster transport, which did a few low-level fly-pasts along the strip. It was quite something to see such a large aircraft over our little airfield.

The finale seemed to have just about every display aircraft in the air at the same time, with lots of aerial explosions and a ‘wall of fire’ to end the show.

There will soon be an official DVD of the show available, so I can’t show off too many photos of the action, but here’s a small selection – click here to go to the gallery. All photos courtesy of Mike Rudd.

Tyabb Airshow 2016

Tyabb Airshow 2016The bi-annual airshow at Tyabb is coming up on Sunday 13th March – not long now! This year’s theme is ‘Winged Warriors’ from past and present.

As in previous years, a wonderful array of old and new aeroplanes will be on display in the air and on the ground, as well as a collection of beautiful vintage cars. There will be a wide range of food and drink stands and many of the private hangars on the airfield will be open and their aircraft on show. Truly a great family day out.

The Foxbat Australia hangar will be open and we’ll have the Vixxen and Foxbat there to see. I share the hangar with Cubcrafters Australia and there will be a nice yellow Carbon Cub on view, as well as the mighty Bush Hawk.

Doors open at 08.30 on Sunday morning – come early and grab a good place to view the flying display.

Click here for more details of the Airshow: Tyabb Airshow 2016

And here for a short promo video: Tyabb Airshow 2016 video

Seabird Seeker – a blast from my past

Seeker French Island 01A few years ago I bought a used Seabird Seeker aircraft. I’d always loved the look of the aircraft – pusher prop, high wing, bubble cabin – but a new one was completely out of my budget. To cut a long story short, I bought this one at a very reasonable price and the previous owner agreed to have it ferried for me from Jandakot Airport near Perth in Western Australia to Tyabb Airport, near Melbourne.

My Seeker aircraft was serial number 011, which had been used on many factory publicity photos, brochures and videos. It had accumulated about 500 hours, both as a demonstrator as well as working in Queensland as an observation plane before the then owners went into liquidation. The previous owner to me had bought it at the liquidation sale and taken it to WA.

For the uninitiated, Seabird Aviation is an Australian company, based in Bundaberg, Queensland, owned and managed by the Adams family, who designed, tested and eventually gained GA certification for the aircraft type. The Seeker is designed primarily as a platform for observation equipment – cameras, videos and other stuff too secret to name. As such, it is a perfect aircraft for the job – extremely stable in all flight regimes, and a fraction the cost of a helicopter to buy and operate. Unfortunately for me – and in spite of my blind expectation – this inherent stability makes the aircraft far from a responsive ‘pilot’s plane’ to fly. And although it cruises around 100 knots, it is definitely not a short-field aircraft, particularly when loaded.

So, after about 18 months and 60-70 hours of trouble-free flying, I reluctantly decided to sell it. After a few weeks, there was absolutely no interest from Australia, so I placed it on the front page of the ‘Barnstormers‘ aviation sales website in the USA. The email and phone ran hot and I sold it within a week to a buyer in the southern part of the USA. I could probably have sold it several times, even with the Australian dollar close to parity with the US dollar. That was nearly 3 years ago.

Fast forward to now. I subscribe to a number of aviation news feeds and blogs; today I received a release saying that a Florida company – Propel Aviation – had been appointed new USA dealers for the Seeker. Curious, I had a look at the Seeker USA website and there, to my delight, was a recent short video of Seeker serial number 011, still resplendent in its white and orange paintwork but now sprouting an array of surveillance cameras, cabin screens and special equipment controls.

Good luck my Seeker – I hope you find success in your new life!

Great Eastern Fly-In

Great Eastern 2016 blogThe annual Great Eastern Fly-In is taking place over the weekend of 9-10 January. The fly-in, as always, is at Evans Head Aerodrome on the coast of northern New South Wales – an old military airfield once under threat of closure, so whether by air or land, please go along if you can.

Flying displays are planned for both days, including most things that fly – from radio controlled models up to massive warbirds like the P51 Mustang and T28 Trojan.

It’s many a year since I was able to attend the fly-in from my club base at Jacobs Well in south East Queensland. Now, alas, I’m based far away in Melbourne and family and business commitments (including the eagerly anticipated arrival of the first two customer A32 Vixxens) preclude my attendance this year.

However, this promises to be a great family event. Apart from all the aeroplanes – up close and personal – attractions include on-site catering, local food markets and easy access via a regular shuttle bus service to local cafes and restaurants. There’s a family movie night on Saturday, joy flights throughout the weekend, lots of stalls selling local produce and a great selection of vintage and veteran classic cars and military vehicles of all sorts.

Overall, the Great Eastern Fly-In is a wonderful community event for all aviators and the general public, with plenty of opportunites to view aircraft and talk to pilots.

If you go – have a great (eastern!) time and send us your pictures and comments!

RA-Aus ‘amnesty’

RAAus letterIt may seem at first that flying without a current RA-Aus membership or a current bi-annual flight review (BFR), or without the correct endorsements or in an unregistered aircraft, are not serious safety issues. However, research into accidents with RA-Aus registered aircraft has shown that non-compliance in one or more of these key areas is a significant causal factor in many serious and fatal accidents.

It is thought that fear of reprisal may be one factor in stopping lapsed RA-Aus pilots/members/aircraft owners from rejoining the organisation. To help overcome this, RA-Aus, supported by CASA and other aviation bodies, has agreed an ‘amnesty’ period for ‘non-compliant’ pilots/members/aircraft owners to rejoin RA-Aus without punitive action being taken. Part of this process will include completion of any missing compliance items like BFRs and aircraft registration.

The amnesty will run for a 3-month period, from 01 December 2015 to 29 February 2016. This is a one-off opportunity for anyone affected to get back onside and at the same improve not only their own safety but everyone else’s too.

You may not be personally affected but I really urge you to talk with anyone you feel who may be and ask them to re-join the organisation.

To help in this, here’s a link to a letter from RA-Aus which gives more information for lapsed members: Dear Lapsed Member Letter

And here is a link to the RA-Aus website member application page, which can be completed and submitted online: Membership Reactivation Application

A brief visit to Van Nuys Airport

Van Nuys One Six Right 01Many years ago, I saw a wonderful video called One Six Right, which was all about Van Nuys Airport, located in the San Fernando Valley, to the north of Los Angeles. In reality it was a fantastic promo documentary video about Van Nuys, to convince people that it was more than worth keeping, as it made such commercial as well as sentimental sense. One Six Right is the main runway, which favours the prevailing winds, so most aircraft land and take off from it. One Six Left and its reciprocal is used primarily for training flights as it is ‘only’ 4,000 feet (1,220 metres) and therefore half as long as its parallel companion.

The video was a no-expense spared affair, with some of the most creative and beautifully shot sequences of warbirds, aerobatic stunt flying, a low and slow J3 Cub, following a DC3 in to land (almost sitting, it seemed, on the tail fin) as well as a variety of other aircraft – some very common, some far from so.

And there were plenty of interviews with current and past pilots, men and women, based at Van Nuys. I was truly transfixed the first time I saw the video as, at the time, there was no aviation film with such hi-definition images, so beautifully edited into a series of sections featuring different flight regimes – with titles like ‘The Joyride‘, ‘Look Ma – No Hands!’ and of course, that old favourite of all pilots: ‘Dreams of Flying‘.

Van Nuys SignSo when I had a very brief opportunity to go and see Van Nuys Airport in the flesh, of course I jumped at it. The day was very hot – in the mid-30s celsius (mid-90s fahrenheit) – so I didn’t spend a lot of time there – just enough to see a few biz jets arrive and depart, a few learner pilots doing their touch-and-goes, and take a few photos from the public viewing area, which unfortunately is surrounded by a 3-metre high chain link fence (a sign of our terrorised times I suppose).

But just to be there was great; the sight of the control tower – which features strongly in the video – and the hills surrounding the valley was enough to bring back some of those flying sequences in the video.

Van Nuys is one of the busiest GA airfields in the world with almost 300,000 aircraft movements annually (that figure’s not a mistake!). Eat your heart out Tyabb….

If you want to buy a copy of One Six Right, you can get it from most good pilot supplies shops or from the official website by clicking here: One Six Right

Or you can rent a (low resolution) viewing on YouTube by clicking here: One Six Right

Don’t forget Ausfly!

Ausfly reminderA last minute reminder that the 2015 ‘Ausfly’ show at Narromine, NSW, is scheduled for Friday 4 and Saturday 5 September – only a week away!

Foxbat Australia will have on show at least one current A22LS Foxbat as well as the new A32 Vixxen – its first formal public outing since its first flight in Australia only a few weeks ago. We are also hoping to show the latest A22LS Foxbat from Moruyair, with controls modified so that disabled pilots can learn to fly it.

The show is jointly sponsored by the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia (SAAA), AOPA Australia, Australian Warbirds and last but not least, Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-Aus). As a result, there should be a wonderful gathering of all types of aircraft, from ultralights to heavy metal and all points in between.

There are air displays planned for both Friday and Saturday, with warbirds, solo aerobatics and the RAAF Roulettes strutting (or should that be winging?) their stuff.

The weather is looking hopeful at this stage – certainly for the Narromine area – but it’s still a long way off in weather forecaster’s terms, so my fingers are firmly crossed that the cloud will be high over the ranges.

If you manage to get to the show, come and say hello and have a look at the A32 Vixxen for yourself. The show site layout is still a bit flexible but Foxbat Australia will likely be on the apron between the indoor exhibits area (hangar 10) and hangar 17 – look for our black teardrop flags with the red & white Fox head logo.