Saturday 1st of March 2014 marked 100 years to the day since the first Australian Military Flight from Point Cook.
To celebrate the occasion a major Airshow entitled “Centenary of Military Aviation” was held at RAAF Williams, Point Cook over the weekend of 1st and 2nd of March and was well supported by the RAAF and private Warbird owners. This was the major RAAF airshow of the year with 33,000 people attending over the two days and fortunately despite it being overcast on the Saturday, the rain held off and the Sunday was a perfect sunny day after early cloud.
The flying program was full of RAAF content from the 1914 Bristol Boxkite replica up to the F/A 18F Super Hornet and the flying was spectacular to say the least.
The Boxkite Replica has been constructed by the RAAF Museum and volunteers over the past few years and flew on the actual anniversary of the first Australian military aircraft flight at Point Cook right down to the minute. Pilot on the day was Sqn Ldr Steve Bekker who managed to attain a speed of 55Kph and a height of 50 feet. The 1914 pilot had been Lieutenant Eric Harrison.
The remainder of the flying program took the form of a chronological display of RAAF types and those with a strong affinity to the RAAF.
Representing the Australian Flying corps, The RAAF Museum Sopwith Pup replica flew a great display. Next it was the turn of training aircraft such as the Avro Cadet (VH-AGH/ A6-17 owned by Ashton Martin-Clinton), De Havilland DH 86 Tiger Moth (VH-LJM / A17-561 owned by Garry Herne) and The DeHavilland DH 94 Moth Minor (VH-CZB /A21-42 owned by Mark Carr.
This was followed by several types that were impressed into the RAAF in WW11. Beech 17 (VH-FNS) and Stinson Reliant SR-8C (VH-UXL/ A38-1) owned also in WA by Kevin Bailey. Auster 3 VH-BDM /A11-33 was displayed next.
CAC Wirraway, appropriately registered VH-CAC /A20-722 displayed beautifully. CAC CA-12 Boomerang VH-XBL / A46-63 was another iconic Australian Warbird in attendance and it gave a great account of itself.
The WW11 “heavies” were represented at the Show by The Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Catalina PBY6A painted as RAAF A24-362 “Black Cat “. The HARS also supplied a DC3 VH-EAF / A65-94. Lastly the heavies finished with the Temora Aviation Museum (TAM) Lockheed Hudson VH-KOY / A16-112 the last of her type currently flying.
Other WW11 aircraft were represented by 2 X P40s – Judy Pay’s P40F merlin engine version VH-HWK, and Allan Arthur’s Allison engine P40N VH-ZOC which were real performers both in formation and as individual displays. Two CAC Built Mustangs were also in attendance Jeff Trappett’s CAC CA-18 Mustang Mk.21 A68-118 VH-AGJ looking beautiful in its polished silver scheme and Judy Pay’ similar A68-105 / VH-JUC in its RAAF P51 3sqn Italian theatre scheme which always looks a treat. The Mustangs put on a great show individually and in formation with the other fighters and the DC3 and Hudson. Lastly the Temora Aviation Museum Supermarine Spitfire Mk VIII VH-HET / A58-758 was displayed in its usual exuberant manner and is a superb sight in the air on its own and in formation.
The transition to the Jet age was then demonstrated by the Gloster Meteor F.8 VH-MBX VZ467 and CA-27 Sabre VH-IPN / A94-983. Training types were well represented by a display of 3 Winjeel and 5 CT4 aircraft which flew a very tight and well-disciplined display. Judy Pay also brought her Former Rhodesian Air Force De Havilland DH-115 Vampire T.11, VH-ZVZ / 15392 along which was representing the types extensive RAAF service both as a fighter and trainer. The Southern Knights 4 T6 Harvards also flew an impressive aerobatic display that has become a hallmark of Australian airshows for some years now and never disappoints. The RAAF’s own Display team the Roulettes put on their traditional polished performance again to the crowds appreciation.
The Vietnam era was represented by several types including the HARS De Havilland Canada Caribou A4-210, Cessna Birddog O-1G Birddog, VH-FXY and Cessna 180 VH-TVA. The RAN Fleet Air Arm Historic Flight Bell UH-1B Iroquois VH-NVV / N9-3103 represented the Hueys flown by the RAAF and the RAN.
It was then the turn of the serving RAAF types carry on the display program. Four F/A 18 A Hornets performed a great formation display of aerobatics. There was a full size replica of a JSF in the static area and it was a crowd puller as well.
Lockheed Orion P3C A9-756 flew in from South Australia and demonstrated its low speed ability and engine out capability in a number of impressive passes. Next a Lockheed C130 J A97-466 was very well received as it displayed its ability to land and takeoff in very steep attitudes so as to avoid missile attacks – something often utilized in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
An unusual display was a formation of 4 RAAF Beech King Air aircraft which performed a very professional aerobatic routine. Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet A44-215 certainly announced its presence loudly as it gave a spirited demonstration of the types handling and performance. During the show there were many opportunities for the crowd to inspect the many aircraft in the static park areas including an F/A 18/, F111, C17 and a Hawk trainer as well as many visiting private aircraft.
This was a great airshow and appropriately celebrated 100 years of Australian Military flying at the oldest continuous use Military airfield in the world.
© John Parker 2014