As I write this, it’s Saturday morning, and I’m am so tired, worn, achy arms and shoulders, but so, so happy. The first post-pandemic major airshow in Australia was hugely attended and eagerly awaited. Everyone there was so happy to be there. Everyone staffing the displays were super happy to be there and meet people. It was a great day.
What were they highlights? According to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilots, seeing the USAF F-22 Raptor. For me, seeing the new RAAF F35 Lighting II. Both did their performances. I have to admit watching the Raptor was great. It can float and flutter above the airfield demonstrating it’s extreme maneuverability, and it’s ability to hover so, so, slowly. It might have been the slowest aircraft to fly that day. However, the sheer roar of the Pratt & Whitney F135 was nothing short of astounding. I could feel my eardrums get tickled, my rib cage rattle. Before every F35 flight, there was a warning issued to the crowd to put on hearing protection. The F35 performance was probably good, but I honestly could not wait until it turned away the the afterburner was pointed directly at me; that is the highlight.
According to a RAAF pilot, it is capable of accelerating in a vertical climb. When asked about his favourite thing about the F35 – it’s the sheer acceleration. And as he said that, a big childish grin emerged across his face. When I asked other pilots what they liked about their aircraft, it was usually low terrain flying being exhilarating. It seems the 191kN thrust of the P&W is second to none.
The first time I attended the Avalon Airshow was in 1995. The highlight for me was to see the massive USAF C5 Galaxy. The US came back with the C5 again, and it was not the highlight. People still marvelled at the massive interior. But the F35 (yes, I cannot stop thinking about it) was the crowd favourite. 1995 was also the end of an era, the RAAF Mirage III was just out of service, so the exciting plane to watch was the F/A-18 Hornet (now referred to as “the Classic Hornet”). But of course, the F-111 Aardvark doing it’s fuel dump and burn would have been the crowd pleaser.
So, what photos am I most excited about? Can you guess? Of these, which would be the one photo I was so excited to get processed first? Here are the contenders: The USAF F-22 doing high speed turns; the new F/A-18 Super Hornets; the C17 demonstrating that despite it’s massive size, it can fly slowly and elegantly over the airfield; the RAAF F-35; or the RAAF C-130 Hercules? Of course ‘the Herc’ doing a flare drop. Just look at that photo!
All of the best photos from the day will be made available to licence on the Travel Photos Archive, and will be made available as posters and merch on the Travel Photos Shop.