Nhill Fly In 2012

Nhill Aero Club Victoria Australia
Welcome to Nhill

On October 20th, 2012 the town of Nhill in the Wimmera district of Victoria held a Fly In event to help raise money for the restoration of a World War Two era Avro Anson (a twin-engine trainer and liaison aircraft. This particular one was recovered from a farm in the region where it had sat for many years following disposal by the RAAF) and also to establish a new Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre museum at the aerodrome. During the war Nhill was a major RAAF training base between 1941 to 1946, principally operating the Avro Anson for air navigation training (for both day and night flying – the navigators had to find their way by using the stars).

Avro Anson Nhill World War Two RAAF
An RAAF Avro Anson over Nhill during World War Two (source: Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre)
Avro Anson restoration project Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre Australia
Avro Anson restoration project (source: Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre photo)

As the war progressed on both the European, Middle East and Pacific front, more and more pilots and aircrew were required. With the threat of Japanese invasion, especially in 1942, many secret airbases such as this one were built in relatively remote locations to make them more secure from enemy attack (today Nhill is around a 4 hour drive from both Melbourne and Adelaide). Thousands of RAAF aircrew were trained in such bases around the state (around 10,000 in Nhill alone).

RAAF Nhill Airbase WW2
RAAF Nhill in World War Two (source: Victorian Collections)
RAAF Bristol Beaufort Nhill 1944 Australia
A Beaufort mishap at Nhill in 1944 (source: The Weekly Times)

During the peak of airbase operations in 1943 up to 35 Ansons and 800 RAAF personnel were based at Nhill. From 1944 the base was also used for armaments training operating Bristol Beaufort bombers, the Avro Anson and training aircraft such as the CAC Wirraway.

Whilst conducting training missions they would drop bombs on a weapons range at the nearby Little Desert. By wars end the base had become a Care and Maintenance Unit with a number of Anson’s held in storage until the base was closed in 1946 (then becoming the town’s airport). Most of the World War Two era buildings are long gone now but some do remain including one of the hangars.

RAAF Armourers at Nhill in World War Two
RAAF Armourers at Nhill in World War Two (source: The Weekly Times)

The Fly In event was a great success and the weather was a warm sunny day, perfect for flying. Approximately 90 aircraft flew in and according the Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre November newsletter this could well be the most aircraft to have ever been at Nhill (there would have never been more than around 40 aircraft there at one time even when the RAAF base was in operation)! According to local news reports up to 3,000 people also attended the fly in. This may not sound like a large crowd for an air show but you have to consider the town only has a population of around 1,900 people and it is a long way from most major towns and cities! The organisers are to be congratulated for their efforts.

Nhill Fly In 2012 Victoria Australia
A great variety of aircraft
Jabiru Aircraft
Jabiru Aircraft
Nhill North American Trojan CAC Winjeel CAC Mustang
North American Trojan, CAC Winjeel & CAC Mustang

Feature aircraft of the day were many and varied. These included ex-RAAF aircraft: CAC Mustang (flown and owned by Jeff Trappet an ex-RAAF pilot), CAC Wirraway, CAC Winjeel and a PAC CT-4 Airtrainer (both from the RAAF Museum) along with various training aircraft such as the Boeing Stearman, De Havilland Tiger Moth (the one doing joy flights seemed to be enjoying a roaring trade), De Havilland Chipmunk and a newly imported North American T-28 Trojan (the Trojan was often used by various air forces for Counter Insurgency operations too). They all put on a great flying display which the crowd really enjoyed seeing.

CAC Mustang Jeff Trappet
Firing up the Rolls Royce Merlin of the CAC Mustang
CAC Mustang Nhill Fly In 2012 Australia
CAC Mustang
CAC Wirraway Nhill Fly In 2012
CAC Wirraway
CAC Winjeel Nhill Fly In 2012
CAC Winjeel
Wirraway Winjeel Nhill Fly In 2012
Wirraway & Winjeel – Australian developed trainers
CT-4 Airtrainer Nhill Fly In 2012
CT-4 Airtrainer
CAC Winjeel PAC CT-4 Airtrainer in flight RAAF Museum
Winjeel & CT-4 from the RAAF Museum
Boeing Stearman Nhill Fly In 2012
Boeing Stearman
Boeing Stearman Nhill Flyin 2012 Australia
Boeing Stearman takes off
De Havilland Tiger Moth Nhill Fly In 2012
De Havilland Tiger Moth joy flights
De Havilland Tiger Moth Chipmunk Nhill Fly In 2012
De Havilland Tiger Moths & Chipmunks
De Havilliand Chipmunk Nhill Fly In 2012
De Havilland Chipmunk
Tiger Moth
Tiger Moths heading out for take off
Nhill Fly In 2012
De Havilland Tiger Moths and a Chipmunk
Engine start North American T-28 Nhill Fly in 2012
Firing up the T-28 Trojan
North American T-28 Trojan Nhill Fly In 2012
T-28 Trojan

A great display of aerobatics was provided by an Extra 300L flown by Daryl Moore, a local pilot from Horsham (I had seen him practicing over Horsham on a number of days in the weeks leading up to the fly in) and a solo Pilatus PC-9 from the RAAF Roulettes display team (at the time I was in the middle of the air park so this was flying directly overhead me). An Ayres S2R-G6 crop duster also put on an excellent display of low-level flying, which is so typical of when doing ag-flying. On top of these feature aircraft were the many different types of historic and modern civilian aircraft including various kit builds flown in from various parts of Australia by visiting pilots.

Extra 300L Nhill Fly In 2012
Extra 300L
Extra 300L Aerobatics Nhill Fly In 2012
Extra 300L
Extra 300L Aerobatics Nhill Fly In 2012 Victoria Australia
Extra 300L aerobatics
RAAF Roulettes PC-9 Nhill Fly In 2012
RAAF Roulettes PC-9
RAAF Roulettes PC-9 Nhill Fly In 2012
RAAF Roulettes PC-9
RAAF Roulettes PC-9 Nhill Fly In 2012
RAAF Roulettes PC-9
Ayres S2R-G6 Nhill Fly In 2012
Low level pass by the Ayres S2R-G6
Ayres S2R-G6 Nhill Fly In 2012
Ayres S2R-G6
self launching glider Nhill Fly In 2012
Self launching glider
kit build aircraft Nhill fly In 2012
One of the many kit planes at the fly in – a Sonex Waiex
SIAI-Marchetti SF-260 VH-SIA Nhill Fly In 2012 Australia
A great paint scheme on this SIAI-Marchetti SF-260
Corby Starlet Nhill
Corby Starlet
Evektor Aerotechnik Sportstar Plus
Evektor Aerotechnik Sportstar Plus
Gippsland GA-8 Caravan Nhill Fly In 2012
Gippsland GA-8 Caravan

In addition to all the aircraft there were parts of the Avro Anson restoration (you can read more about the restoration project by clicking here), various aircraft engines and historic items in a hangar display (one of the old base hangars from World War Two); a book launch for “Flyers of Time” by Kevin O’Reilly (who has also written about Nhill during World War Two), then outside a large number of classic and historic vehicles and motorbikes had arrived. All in all a great day!

Avro Anson Restoration Nhill Victoria Australia
The tail plane and undercarriage from the Avro Anson restoration
Aircraft Engines Nhill 2012
Various aircraft engines
Rolls Royce Merlin Engine Nhill Fly In 2012
Rolls Royce Merlin engine
Classic Cars Nhill Fly In 2012
Classic cars
Hot Rod
Hot Rod
WW2 Harley Davidson
WW2 Harley Davidson
Long range desert vehicle WW2
Long range desert vehicle
Willys Jeep
Willys Jeep
Holden Monaro Nhill Fly In 2012
Holden Monaro
E Type Jaguar
E Type Jaguar
Ford Mustang
Ford Mustang
Vintage Car Nhill Fly In 2012
1947 Dodge Nhill Fly In 2012
1947 Dodge

The Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre plans to make the fly in a regular event (it is to be determined whether it will be on a bi-annual or tri-annual basis). Based off this years fly in I think they will have many more successful years to come and a very prosperous future for their planned museum. I wish them the best of success and I for one look forward to returning to see future events and check out the museum too.

10 thoughts on “Nhill Fly In 2012

  1. I am an ex RAAF ground crew member, (fire-fighter) dating from 1958 to 1985 and like to keep in touch with aviation history even in my 70’s I enjoy seeing the photos of old and modern aircraft.


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