Temora Airshow

The airshow was hosted by the Temora Aviation Museum on the weekend of the 6th and 7th March 2021. As it so happens, on the 21st of March is the Royal Australian Air Forces’ (RAAF) 100th anniversary. It was preceded by the Australian Air Corps of the Australian Army from 1912 to 1920, making it the second oldest air force in the world.

  • The new Pilatus PC21 trainer

Temora is a small little rural country town in the literal middle of nowhere in rural country Australia – in the middle of the rural country area. There’s nothing much around Temora, but canola fields, some sheep, maybe some random cattle. I don’t think even the kangaroos bother being in the middle of rural country nowhere. The airshow still attracted 3000 visitors, which is not a fair measure. It was covid restricted to 3000, so it would normally receive more people.

The DeHaviland Tigermoth. Originally intended as a fighter in in WWI, but became an important trainer and civilian workhorse.
Originally intended as a fighter in WWI, the De Haviland Tigermoth became an important trainer and civilian workhorse at the Temora Airshow. No photoshopping required. The Tigermoth really did pass by the moon before it set later in the day.

Temora, though, has aviation history. During World War One (1914 to 1918) it was the site of the Empire Training Scheme, where the British Commonwealth pilots were trained. It was also a major training site during World War Two. During the postwar period to the late 1990’s the Temora “airport” was a forgotten place in aviation history. However, interest in Temora as a site for vintage aircraft airshows rose in the 1990’s, I even helped out at an airshow there then. Then in the early 2000’s a businessman with an interest in Australian aviation military history started the Temora Aviation Museum (TAM).

The iconic Battle of Britain hero the Supermarine Spitfire.
The Battle of Britain hero the Supermarine Spitfire at the Temora Airshow and 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

The TAM has slowly collected some iconic aircraft of military aviation history, including from small one to the big ticket items. Though modest, the collection is still enviable. My personal favourites are some of my all-time favourites the English Electric Canberra and the Curtis P40 Kittyhawk.

A Curtis P40 Kittyhawk taxiing before takeoff at the Temora Airshow.

However, in the last year, possibly due to the economic effects of the lockdowns and travel restrictions of the coronavirus period, most of the TAM collection was recently handed over to the RAAF.

The Curtis P40 Kittyhawk taxiing ahead of an air display at the Temora Airshow and 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

The EE Canberra had been airworthy, but a rebuild and inspection of the engines were apparently needed. It’s currently not flying, but they did demonstrate the engines warming up early in the day. It is expected to be in the air again later in 2021.

The English Electric Canberra at the Temora Airshow and 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

My favourite photos of the airshow, weirdly, were taken at the very start. It was a rescue helicopter that came in before anything started. I was renting the Sigma 150-600mm behemoth lens. I’ve never used a lens like it before. So, I tested it out a bit a couple of days before the airshow. On the day itself, the incoming helicopter was a last test before the “serious shoot”. I was able to check my focusing techniques, shutter speed for the rotors, stabilisation techniques, etc. Unintended, these turned out so great. I think for a few reasons. Firstly, the helicopter appeared much closer than the airshow displays. Second, we can clearly see people. Third, the people were doing things. Fourth, it’s a bright contrasty colourful scene.

I’m not sure why the rescue helicopter was here. I suspect it’s something to do with civilians doing aerobatics, former military pilots doing aerobatics, in vintage aircraft.

The airshow featured some world “firsts”. Including the first time three Spitfires flew in formation since WWII. The first time two CAC Boomerangs flew in formation with a Lockheed Hudson. And the first time Spitfires flew in formation with the new Lockheed Martin F35 Lighting II. This also marks the first time I’ve seen the F35 in person. It was hard to photograph, as it came at the end of the day, when all the other aircraft flew at propeller-speed slow, then suddenly this fast-moving beast blasted by only a few times, I wasn’t quite ready to deal with the speed.

The new RAAF Lockheed Martin F35 Lighting II at the Temora Airshow and 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

These photos and more will be available for sale on our stock sales site soon at either Alamy or our archive.

As I’ve said, the main lens used is a rented specialty telephoto lens, the Sigma 150-600 lens. It’s a rare lens, due to the telefocal length and the versatility the Zoom range offers. It’s mostly used by bird watchers, wildlife, and sports photographers. It performed well. The focus speed was as expected or better; it didn’t take long to find the target to focus on. Though this wasn’t the sports model, it just did the job well. It suffers a little in vignetting at the 600mm end, even at f9. Also, the lens is surprisingly light considering the glass elements the zoom range needs. Would I buy one?

Is the lens sharp? I think no. It’s good, but not that good. At 290mm. While post processing the images, I thought a lot of the softness was from me not using a fast enough shutter speed for the focal length and distance. However, 290mm at 1/320sec should result in perfectly sharp photos, but I haven’t found a perfectly crisp photo. It seems softness is from chromatic aberration, but without colour. Would I get the Tamron equivalent? Well, that was my preferred choice, so in the end, I don’ think it matters too much which I get… but I’d rather try the Tamron first.

Author: AndrewB

Andrew is a professional travel photographer based in Melbourne Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

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