Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in review, and thankyou to our readers & contributors

As the final post for 2015, considered it would be fitting to take a moment to reflect upon some of the more exciting events covered by Capricorn Plane Spotting / Air Queensland.blogspot throughout the year.

To begin, we attended Australian International Air Show 2015 at Avalon Airport near Geelong, Victoria in late February and provided extensive coverage for a number of weeks afterwards. Our intention is to attend the biennial event again in 2017.

The annual Old Station Fly-in & Heritage Show was held at Old Station near Raglan, Central Queensland in May and as always, was a thoroughly enjoyable and well organised event.
Air Queensland.blogspot will be back to cover the fly-in again in 2016. 
With preparations beginning a number of weeks prior and conducted in conjunction with 'Exercise Hamel', the biennial joint Australian - US military exercise 'Talisman Saber' got underway in July at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) and Rockhampton Airport again played host to the event. New Zealand and Japan also participated in 2015.
Air Queensland.blogspot was excited to attend the Inaugural Fraser Coast Fly-in at Maryborough Airport in August and already looking forward to the next occasion in 2016.
To finish the year off with a bang, Rockhampton Airport again played host to Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) 'Exercise Wallaby' during the months of October and November.
Not only did local planespotters enjoy the sights and sounds of the participating General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon's, but the enormous size of the visiting Antonov AH-124-100 heavy lift cargo planes that transported helicopters and supporting equipment between Singapore and Central Queensland.
Before concluding for 2015, Capricorn Plane Spotting / Air Queensland.blogspot would like to not only thank our readers, but the following contributors for their valuable support throughout the year :
Ben May (Hervey Bay), David Geck (Maryborough), Micah S (Bundaberg), Terry P (Gladstone), Ash Burggraaff and Phil Munsel Photography (Rockhampton), 'AC' and Mike Manning (Mackay), Pete B (Hamilton Island) and Callum Bain Photography (NSW).
We would also like to make a special mention of Maryborough Aviation Services, Callide Dawson Flying Group (CDFG) and the Rockhampton Aero Club. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Nauru Airlines, formerly Our Airline

Formerly known as Our Airline and Air Nauru, Nauru Airlines is the national airline of the 'Republic of Nauru' and operates scheduled international services to other Pacific Islands and Australia. Of interest, the main base and head office of Nauru Airlines is located at Nauru International Airport however the operations office is situated in Brisbane, Queensland.

Air Nauru commenced operations in 1970 with an experimental service between Nauru and Brisbane using a chartered Dassault Falcon 20 with regular passenger services commencing in 1972 upon delivery of the airline's first Fokker F28 Fellowship. A short time later, a second Fellowship was placed into service.

With expansion continuing, a Boeing 737-200 was added to the fleet in 1975 followed by the addition of a Boeing 727-100 in 1976 however the two Fellowships were sold to Air Niugini in the late '70s in favour of adding more Boeings to the growing airline.

By 1983, Air Nauru's fleet consisted of two Boeing 727-100s (the second was registered C2-RN7) and five Boeing 737-200s (C2-RN5, 'RN6, 'RN8 and 'RN9) however since the entire population of Nauru at this time was about 8 000 residents, the airline was in the extraordinary position of having seating capacity equal to approximately 10% of the Nauruan population.

For many years afterwards, Air Nauru's fleet continued to change with the addition or deletion of aircraft (mainly different versions of the 737) as the airline strived to stay in tune with the marketplace but also because of ties to the government and constraints that were often imposed.

Additionally, the island's regular economic troubles have at times caused the airline to become insolvent while operations were also suspended for brief periods in the 90s because of concerns raised by Australia over the airworthiness and safety record of its aircraft.

In 1998, Air Nauru came under the regulatory control of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of Australia and since has been a select foreign carrier holding an Australian Air Operator's Certificate (AOC).

Throughout much of the early - mid 2000s, Air Nauru continued to struggle financially including repeated defaults on loans leading to the seizure of the carriers only aircraft at a time being that of Boeing 737-400 VH-RON. Following the acquisition of a replacement aircraft (a Boeing 737-300) in 2006, Air Nauru was rebranded as Our Airline and was followed by the launching of a new website and online booking facility in 2007. Our Airline was renamed Nauru Airlines in August 2014.

Today, Nauru Airlines operates a fleet of six Boeing 737-300 aircraft with each configured in a 130-seat / 2-class layout servicing Brisbane (Australia), Majuro (Marshall Islands), Nadi (Fiji), Nauru (Nauru) and Tarawa (Kiribati). A lone Boeing 737-300F is also operated. Additionally, Nauru Airlines offers charter flights to various locations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand aswell as the south and central pacific.

* Please note all photo's in this post were captured at Gladstone Airport in 2013 and 2014 when Nauru Airlines, then Our Airline, operated frequent FIFO / charter flights between Brisbane and the port city at the height of LNG construction. Also, some aircraft featured are no longer in service with Nauru Airlines


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Scenic flight aboard Cessna 210N VH-KTE

We ventured to Gladstone Airport on Sunday, December 06, to photograph a light aircraft that now calls Gladstone home.

Earlier this year, local aviator and business owner, Terry Purcell of Purcell Engineering, travelled to Wollongong, NSW to pick-up the company's new acquisition, Cessna 210N VH-KTE.

When I first sighted VH-KTE, it was clearly evident the aircraft had not only been immaculately maintained by the previous owner / owners, but now Terry's true pride-n-joy. In fact, I would go as far as to say, I have never personally sighted a Cessna 210 presented to such high standards as VH-KTE.

Furthermore, I asked if the plane recently received a new paint job. Answer ... NO ! Apparently still coated in the original paint.

Manufactured in 1981, VH-KTE was originally powered by a Continental IO-520, 6-cylinder engine however was retrofitted in 2007 with a Continental IO-550, 6-cylinder engine. Needless to say, the slightly larger powerplant provides improved performance. It was equally interesting to learn VH-KTE has the legs to fly from Gladstone to Melbourne without making a stop.

After taking a few photo's of VH-KTE and enjoying a chat with Terry at the same time, my sons and I were kindly invited to climb aboard for a local flight. Needless to say, we didn't turn-down the opportunity !

With all necessary pre-flight checks complete, we were soon airborne off RWY10 with intentions of tracking in a northerly direction for Curtis Island which will first take us over the City of Gladstone and Gladstone Harbour.

Upon reaching Curtis Island, Terry banked the plane to track us along the northern coast (ocean side) of Curtis Island which also provided an opportunity too take in the sights of Yellow Patch.

Reaching the more northern stretches of Curtis Island a short while later, Terry altered course to have us track back toward Gladstone while following 'The Narrows', a river system that seperates Curtis Island from the mainland.

A few minutes later, Gladstone came more clearly in view and soon we were observing some of the local industries including the LNG gas plants, Cement Australia, Yarwun Alumina Refinery, stored coal deposits waiting to be shipped overseas and associated wharfs.

Despite an unexpected albeit moderate wind gust at the final moments before touching down, Terry made a smooth landing back at Gladstone and before we knew it, were taxying back toward the general aviation hangars.

Shortly after hoping-out of the plane and taking a few more happy snaps, VH-KTE was pushed back into the hangar and secured until it's next flight. As it happen to be, that was to Emerald and back the very next day.

On a final note, Air Queensland.blogspot would like to sincerely thank Terry for not only allowing us to take photo's of such a terrific little plane, but invite my sons and I along for a local scenic flight, a truly wonderful Sunday morning indeed.