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Issue 14 – September 2017


Back after an absence of two months, Spotter Magazine is once again in business. Riccardo Braccini is back with some spectacular shots aboard an Italian aircraft carrier and air-to-air with Italian Navy Harriers, whilst Svetlan Simov shares his spectacular shots from Kavala. On the more exotic side, we welcome M Shahir Sonet’s collection of photos from Dhaka’s aviation museum. Enjoy your read, and please support this project if you can.

Mark Zerafa Editor

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Spottermagmalta@gmail.com

Cover Photo: No escaping the sea spray! Italian Navy Harrier recovering aboard the deck of the Cavour. (Riccardo Braccini)


Contents Tunisian Stopover

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Dhaka’s Aviation Heritage

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Kavala Air Show

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Lanseria

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Lynx Bows Out

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A Day with SOFIA

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Italian Harriers

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Credits Mark Zerafa, Massimiliano Zammit, Richard J. Caruana, Riccardo Braccini, M Shahriar Sonet, Timothy Connor Brandt, Cliff Ibell, Jason Wong

Editorial Address:

Copyright Notice

238, Morning Star, Manuel Dimech Str Sliema SLM 1052 MALTA, EUROPE

Editor: Profiles:

Mark Zerafa

Design Assistant:

Massimiliano Zammit

Richard J. Caruana Massimiliano Zammit

All photos and articles remain the intellectual and artistic property of the respective credited persons. All unauthorised reproduction, by any means, both printed and digital, is considered an infringement of this copyright and all remedies available by law will be taken against any infringements of such copyright. Inner Cover: Baltic Bees L-39s displaying at Kavala. (Svetlan Simov)


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You have now been enjoying Spotter Magazine for the last year. Lots of hard work from many volunteers all around the world goes into this publication. Buying a similar publication from your newsagent isn’t cheap. But Spotter Magazine is free, to encourage the love of our passion for aviation all over the world and promoting the talent of upcoming aviation photographers.

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 03-09 November 2017  Visiting all major bases, including Chania (Souda Bay)  Museums and Wrecks & Relics  Flight Connections from Athens and Istanbul  Experienced Tour Managers

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SPOTTER MAGAZINE

Photos: Mark Zerafa Text: Mark Zerafa

June 26th, 2017. To celebrate its first service to Tunis Carthage Airport after a very long absence, Air Malta invited us onboard their Airbus A-320 for a short 40-minute flight from Malta to Tunisia and back. With a two-hour stopover, there is only one thing a passionate aviation photographer can do to while away the time.


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Aviation in Tunis dates back to the 1920s, when seaplanes operated from the Lake of Tunis. An airfield was built in 1938 to service an air link between Paris and Tunis. During World War II, the airfield was used as the headquarters for the USAF’s Twelfth Air Force, and as the war moved further North, it became a logistics base for cargo, aircraft and personnel. Construction of the current airport began in 1944, and by 1948, Tunisair was flying its DC-3s from there to a number of destinations in Europe and North Africa.

In 1997, the airport terminal was expanded, and a further expansion was inaugurated in 2005. A terminal for charter operations was opened in 2006. Besides being the homebase for Tunisair, Nouvelair and Tunisair Express, the airport hosts a number of airlines, including Afriqiyah Airways, Air Algerie, Air France, Air Malta, Alitalia, Buraq Air, EgyptAir, Emirates, Eurowings, Libyan Arab Airlines, Lufthansa, Mauritania Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, Transavia France, TUIFly, Turkish Airlines and Vuelling.

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ZS-TRJ is currently leased to Tunisair to provide further capacity.

Tunisair operates seven Boeing737-600, the rare of the third-generation Boeing single-aisle best-seller.

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Founded in 1948, Tunisair is Tunisia’s flag carrier. Its fleet is currently composed of 4 Airbus A319s. 16 A320s, 2 A330s and 7 Boeing 737-600s. Four A320neos are on order.

Events in North Africa have unfortunately led to a downturn in Tunisair’s expansion plans, and orders for three A350XWBs have been cancelled to be replaced by four A320neos.


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Photos: M Shahriar Sonet Text: Mark Zerafa

Established in June 1987, the Bangladesh Air Force Museum is located in Hangar No.3 at BAF Base Bashar, Dhaka. It houses an impressive collection of aircraft which have played an important part in the events that formed Bangladesh.


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This plane is known as ‘Balaka’ in BAF.' Balaka' is the prime attraction of the museum. It is the first aircraft of Independent Bangladesh. The father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman used this aircraft after independence

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SPOTTER MAGAZINE The Bangladeshi Air Force used the Fouga Magister for advanced jet training from 1978 till 2000, when the type was replaced by the L-39 Albatros. The eight examples, produced under license by Messerschmitt, were purchased from surplus Luftwaffe stocks, and were refurbished in France prior to delivery.


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SPOTTER MAGAZINE This Folland Gnat was presented to Bangladesh air force in recognition of the type’s contribution to the Bangladesh war of liberation. The Gnat was one of the lightest and smallest jet fighters ever to see service. It served in the Indian Air Force from 1958 to 1990. Besides Finland, the IAF was the only air force which used this aircraft extensively. It was manufactured under license in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. An outstanding agile dog-fighter aircraft. It was a terror to its adversaries in operation. India’s armed support to the Bangladesh war of liberation commenced with three Gnat shooting down three Pakistan air force sabres in the Bogra sector on 22 Nov 71. It was presented by Air Chief Marshal AY Tipnis PVSM AVSM VM ADC Chief of the air staff Indian Air Force on 10th February 2000.


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Used by Indian Air Force, this Hawker Hunter was presented to the Bangladesh Air Force in recognition of its contribution to the Bangladesh War of Liberation. In Indian service since December 1957, the Hunter was a highly potent and reliable multi-role aircraft. During the Bangladesh war of liberation it was flown for ground attack and air defense roles and acquitted it in both roles well. 17


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SEPTEMBER 2017 Used in large numbers by the Indian Air Force, the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21 was India’s first supersonic fighter. Three MiG-21 squadrons participated in the 1971 conflict for the independence of Bangladesh, acting mainly as escort fighters, scoring kills against Pakistani F-86s.

Later, MiG-21s were also used for ground attack missions, most notably a sortie on December 14th to attack the Governor’s house during a high-level meeting. Using tourist maps as reference, four MiG-21s from No.28 Squadron, Indian Air Force strafed the building with 57mm rockets. Leading to the resignation on the spot of the Governor, who renounced all ties with the West Pakistani administration.

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Twelve MiG-21s were operated by the Bangladesh Air Force, until they were replaced by MiG-29s and more modern derivatives of Chinese origin.


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Eight former Pakistani F-86s were found abandoned and repaired and pressed into service by the Bangladesh Air Force. A total of 12 Cessna T-37B trainers were received from the USA. A further deal to acquire additional aircraft surplus to Pakistani stocks never materialized. Based at Jessor Air Base, they were replaced by K-8s.

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The Bangladesh Air Force’s second generation of aircraft were mainly of Chinese origin. Eight former Pakistani F-86s were found abandoned and repaired and pressed into service by the Bangladesh Air Force. Eight Nanchang A-5s served from 1986 till 2014 in the ground attack and close support role. The Shenyang TF-5 was an operational conversion fighter leading to the F-5. The Shenyang F-6 was based on the MiG-19, and was used as a interceptor and later as an induction trainer for aspiring A-5 pilots. A total of thirty-four were procured, including the two seat FT-6 version.

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The Mi-8 was the backbone of the Bangladesh Air Force’s helicopter fleet, with a total of seven airframes.

A single Alouette III, formerly operated by the Indian Air Force, was the first helicopter operated by the BAF. Modified to carry rockets and a 0.303 machine gun, the helicopter had a one-inch steel plate welded to its floor to protect its crew from ground fire.


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A single DC-3 and a single DHC-3 Beaver were the first aircraft of the Bangladesh Air Force. Although mnodified to carry 500-pound bombs, the DC-3 was only used to ferry personnel. On the other hand, the Otter was used in anger, having been modified to carry fourteen rockets on underwing stations, and up to ten bombs could be rolled out from the cabin.


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The Chinese-built PT-6 is the primary trainer of the Bangladesh Air Force with over fifty in service since its introduction in 1977. The New Zealand-built Air Tourer was used in limited numbers by the Flying Instructors School until 1997. Operating from the BAF Dhaka Base, the aircraft gained some notoriety when Air Vice Marshal MK Bashar was killed whilst displaying an Air Tourer during the occasion of the opening of the Flying Instrucors School. The Base has since been renamed in his honour,


Fairford Tour 2018 10-16th July 2018

Grandstand Seats W&R Visits Arrivals Display Departures

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SPOTTER MAGAZINE

Photos: Svetlan Simov Text: Svetlan Simov

For sixth time, the beautiful port of Kavala hosted its annual Air & Sea Show. Every summer guests flock to the northern Greek city to see the some action over the city’s port. This is a very photogenic airshow, due to the old city of Kavala which creates an amazing background and the fact that the display is timed for “golden hour”, the best light of the day.


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Hellenic Army UH-1 being put through its paces.

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The UH-1 is a true classic of a helicopter and remains in service with a number of air arms around the world, more than sixty years after its first flight. 30 of the original 43 delivered to the Hellenic Army are still in service.

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Twenty AH-64A and twelve AH-64D Apaches serve with the Hellenic Army Aviation in the attack role. The Apache is heavily armed, fast, rugged and maneuverable.

RICK SLEIGHT

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Based at Stefanoviklio, the Apaches form part of 1 TEEP Bataliion.

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The unmistakable silhouette of a Block-52 F-16C with conformal tanks. The Hellenic Air Force was the first to place this F-16 variant on the airshow circuit, with the Zeus Demo Team.

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The T-6 Texan II is the trainer used by the Hellenic Air Force before students transition to the T-2 Buckeye or MB.339 in a joint programme with the Italian air Force. The Daedalus Demo Team is tasked with presenting a flight demonstration of the aircraft.


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The Kavala Airshow also includes civilian participation. This included EC-120 Kolibri and aerobatic champion Jurgis Kayris in his Su-26.


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The Baltic Bees in their distinctive L-39s, closing off the show as night-time slowly approaches.


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Photos: Timothy Connor Brandt Text: Timothy Connor Brandt

Lanseria International Airport is Johannesburg’s secondary airport. The majority of airlines use OR Tambo International, but this does not mean that Lanseria is a quiet airfield. The three main low-cost carriers of South Africa, Mango Airlines, FlySafair and Kulula all operate multiple flights every day out of the airport. Lanseria is also the main business jet hub of South Africa, with a large Execujet facility and a large number of other FBOs. It is a large maintenance base for various aircraft operating in Southern Africa, guaranteeing a regular number of very exotic African visitors.


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Built in 1945 and still going strong. Douglas DC-3C owned by Missionary Flights International. The aircraft was on maintenance prior to its return to the USA.

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Boeing 727-200 ZS-PVX operated by Fortune Air International. Operated till 2007 by the Nigerian Government as 5N-FGN, this airframe spent tome stored at Lagos befpre being flown to Basle in October 1997 for a C-Check. Fitted with winglets in July 2000, it fitted with uprated engines in 2004. It is sometimes used by the President of South Africa.

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Classic bizjets. Lockheed L-1329-25 Jetstar c/n 5217 9GABF is registered to BF Jet Air SA in Ghana. A long-term resident at Lanseria, It is one of the very few survivors of the type still flying. Towed onto the grass to ‘Corrosion Corner’, HawkerSiddely HS-125-1A N942DS, and Learjet 25B ZS-NYG, await their fate.

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TAG Aviation Boeing 757-200 G-TCSX. This aircraft flew for many airlines, including Transavia, Air Transat, TAESA, Air Finland, Livingston, Monarch, Easyjet and Safi Airways. It seen here departing from Runway 07.


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Big boys fly big jets. McDonnell Douglas MD-83 c/n 1406 was delivered new to American Airlines on 18.09.1987, and served with the airline until September 2011. It is now used to ferry the Congolese football team Tout Puissant Mazembe, and is seen here leaving Lanseria carrying the team home after a match.

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1. Bombardier Challenger 600S D2-SKC is owned by an Angolan construction company Crisgunza. Seen at Lanseria for maintenance. 2. Falcon 900EX F-HEBO turning off Runway 07 3

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3. CRJ-200ER Challenger 850 ZS-ZOR, Execujet Flight Operations, seen here on the main ramp. 4. TR-AFR Dassault Falcon 900, Afrijet Business Services, is normally based in Libreville, Gabon. 5. Beechcraft King Air C90, Proflight Zambia, turning off the runway after maintenance.

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6. Bombardier Global Express 5000 VP=BGS climbing out of Runway 07. 7. British Aerospace 125-700B ZS-TBT has recently been repainted into a very attractive livery. 8. Hawker-Siddeley HS-125-400A N55RZ, still fitted with its original Rolls Royce Viper engines.

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9. Bombardier Challenger 350 ZS-CKA.

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A much rarer visitor to Lanseria was this Lockheed C-130H Hercules of the Algerian Air Force, registered 7T-WHZ.


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The USAF is a regular visitor to Lanseria, with Boeing C-17s making regular visits delivering diplomatic packages and supplies to the US Embassy in Pretoria. This example is from the 315th Airlift Wing, based at Charleston AFB.

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The tails of the three low-cost carriers serving Lanseria, Kulula, Mango and FlySafair. Their business is based primarily on domestic flights.

Mango is a wholly-owned low-cost subsidiary of South African Airlines. It also flies to Zanzibar, Tanzania, besides its domestic routes.

With a fleet of Boeing 737-800s, Kulula uses Lanseria as one of its main hubs, and is known for its humourous tongue-in-cheek approach to anything from marketing to aircraft liveries.

FlySafair is a subsidiary of Safair, with main hubs in Cape Town and OR Tambo International Airport.


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Bombardier Dash-8 Q300 5N-TBA is operated by TopBrass Aviation, a regional Nigerian airline. It was visiting Lanseria for maintenance. (inset) Diexim Expresso is a failed airline from Angola. Embraer EMB-120RT D2-FFY is impounded at Lanseria.


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Motor Sich Airline Antonov An-12BK UR-11316 was another rare visitor to Lanseria.


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Text: Mark Zerafa Photos: Cliff Ibell

One of the fastest and most capable ship-borne helicopters of all time, the time has nonetheless arrived for the Royal Navy to retire its Lynx HMA.8s as they were replaced by the Lynx Wildcat by December 2014. Cliff Ibell went air-to-air in one of their final sorties.


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The Lynx HMA.8 is the ultimate interpretation of the naval Lynx. Based on the Super Lynx 100, the HMA.8 is powered by Gem 42-200 engines, features a BERP main rotor and the larger tail rotor as fitted to the Lynx AH.7. The ungainly nose is fitted with a FLIR turret and a radar under the nose to provide 360o coverage.

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The Lynx entered Fleet Air Arm service on September 1st, 1976, the first Lynxes to enter British service, and saw action in the Falklands and every conflict the British armed forces have been involved in since. The original HAS.2s were upgraded to HAS.3s, prior to the HMA.8 upgrade programme, which ran from 1993 till 2002. In July 2014, 815 Naval Air Squadron was the last RN operator of the Maritime Lyns, with the decommissioning of 702 NAS. Retired aircraft suffered the indignity of being flown to Middle Wallop to be used as a source for spares for Army Lynx still in service.


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Photos: Jason Wong Text: Jason Wong

For the past 3 years, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has visited Christchurch to undertake a number of unique scientific missions, and this year is no exception. SOFIA’s special modifications make her a one of a kind aircraft that carries out missions that no other aircraft or land based telescope could perform. With the range of 6,625 nautical miles (non-stop New York to Kuwait City, Kuwait), SOFIA is able to provide scientists onboard with 12 hours of continuous research at an altitude of 42,000 feet where elements on the ground like clouds and moisture are non existent.


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SOFIA is a survivor of a rare breed of 747SPs. One of only 45 built by Boeing, this aircraft first flew on April 25th,1977 and was delivered to Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) on May 6th, 1977. It served with Pan Am for a short 9 years before flying for United Airlines on February 13th,1986, with whom it would continue to fly for the rest of its commercial airline life. The aircraft was originally christened Clipper Lindbergh by Anne Morrow Lindbergh on May 20, 1977 – the 50th Anniversary of Charles A. Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic. SOFIA was rechristened Clipper Lindbergh by Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles and Anne, on May 21st,2007. SOFIA is powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7J turbofan engines, each developing 50,000 pounds of thrust, which is slightly more thrust compared to the original engines that the aircraft flew with. With the 747SP no longer being manufactured and a very limited number still existing in good or salvageable condition, it has been a difficult task for SOFIA’s team to hunt down engines and parts in order to maintain the aircraft in airworthy condition. SOFIA’s telescope was built in Germany by MAN Technologie AG and KayserThrede GmbH. The telescope weighing in at a whopping 17 tons has a diameter of 2.7 meters (106 inches) and a usable diameter of 2.5 meters (98 inches), also known as unvignetted diameter. The telescope sits on pressurized oil that is only 15 hair strands thin at its bearings allowing someone to lift the telescope with 2 fingers. The telescopes laser is so precise that it is able to focus on the centre of an American dime 30 miles away with only 2cm of error. The telescope is so stable that when the aircraft hits turbulence, the telescope does not shake but the aircraft shakes around it. Because of the telescope’s weight, a full 17 tons, a counter-weight is inside the nose in order to balance the aircraft out. At the time of the photographers visit, the telescope was being cooled and readied for its first mission of the year in Christchurch. In this image, the FLITECAM can be seen attached to the telescope. Along with the FLITECAM, a High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations.

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The flight engineer’s very complicated panel. A select few flight engineers fly with SOFIA during flights. The CDDS Control, a small but extremely important panel is the control surface for the telescopes door. When SOFIA first took to the sky once her new door was installed, and the door was open inflight, the motion of the opening door was so smooth that no one on board could tell whether or not the door was actually open. Since then, they have installed a small green light, URD OPEN, which will illuminate when the telescopes door is open in-flight.


SEPTEMBER 2017 The flight deck of SOFIA is maned by two pilots and a flight engineer. Unlike on a commercial airliner where the left chair is designated as the captain’s seat and the right chair is the co-pilot’s seat. Both pilots are certified to fly from both seats. A group of pilots fly SOFIA in their spare time. All are certified to fly multi-engine aircraft with a number of them hail from the US military. SOFIA’s flight deck used to be analog but have been switched to new digital displays after their recent Dcheck in Hamburg Germany. The switch was deemed necessary due to the difficulty to find parts for the old analog flight system. SOFIA is a difficult aircraft to fly. Inflight, constant adjustments must be made to the throttles due to the weight of the aircraft. On landing, a commercial airliner has a high and low stall speed between 30 and 40 knots. On SOFIA that number drops down to only 9 knots once again due to the weight of the aircraft. While inflight, SOFIA will climb to 30 thousand feet first and open up the telescope to let it cool to get it ready for observing; burn off some fuel is also done at this stage to allow SOFIA to reach her observing altitude. SOFIA will then climb to 35 thousand feet and then 40-42 thousand feet for observing. Total decent time is 1 and a half hours with a typical mission flight time being 11 hours and 50 minutes. Observation is only able to be done on the left hand side of the aircraft.

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SOFIA’s telescope was built in Germany by MAN Technologie AG and Kayser-Threde GmbH. The telescope weighing in at a whopping 17 tons has a diameter of 2.7 meters (106 inches) and a usable diameter of 2.5 meters (98 inches), also known as unvignetted diameter. The telescope sits on pressurized oil that is only 15 hair strands thin at its bearings allowing someone to lift the telescope with 2 fingers. The telescopes laser is so precise that it is able to focus on the centre of an American dime 30 miles away with only 2cm of error. The telescope is so stable that when the aircraft hits turbulence, the telescope does not shake but the aircraft shakes around it. Because of the telescope’s weight, a full 17 tons, a counterweight is inside the nose in order to balance the aircraft out. At the time of the photographers visit, the telescope was being cooled and readied for its first mission of the year in Christchurch. In this image, the FLITECAM can be seen attached to the telescope. Along with the FLITECAM, a High-speed Imaging Photometer for Occultations.


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SPOTTER MAGAZINE A number of modifications have been effected to adapt the 747SP to its unique mission. The vital cooling equipment is located in the rear section of the 747’s characteristic fuselage hump. However, the original spiral staircase to the upper deck has been retained.

SOFIA uses two methods to cool its telescope and instruments. One method is simply using liquid nitrogen and the other method is called cyber cooling which sucks the air out the instruments dropping the temperature to bone chilling -40 Kelvin.

The Mission Directors chair (to the left) and the Scientific Flight Planner (to the right) occupy the main mission system of the aircraft in the lower cabin. The Mission Director has complete control over all the science that is carried out on a flight. The Mission Director (MD) and Scientific Flight Planner (SFP) work together to ensure that all observations are on time and all scientific equipment is functioning properly. The MD and SFP have as much authority over a flight as the pilots flying the aircraft.

According to the crew, one of the most important instruments is the coffee machine. SOFIA is equipped with two which are always and must be operational before and during any flight. Unfortunately the microwave, although on board, is turned off during missions due to the sensitivity of the instruments on board.

There is also a station for the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors Console (AAA). This station is dedicated for educators that fly on board SOFIA who are a part of the AAA program. Since 2011, 30 educators have had an opportunity to fly on SOFIA and bring their flight experience into the classrooms they teach to promote science, engineering, Maths and technology.


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Photos: Riccadro Braccini Colour Profiles: Richard J. Caruana Text: Mark Zerafa

The Italian Navy’s ‘Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati’ operates 14 AV-8B Plus and two TAV-8Bs. When not deployed on the Italian Navy’s carrier, the Cavour, the Harriers are based at Taranto-Grottaglie.


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Although Italian naval aviation dates back to 1913 as the ‘Servizio Aeronautico della Regia Marina’, a law passed in 1937 passed control of all national fixed-wing air assets to the Italian Air Force. Re-activated in 1956 to operate helicopters aboard Italian frigates, it was only in 1989 when the law was repealed, that the Italian Navy could acquire Harrier II fighters which it could operate from its first carrier, the Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Intended primarily for the fleet defence role, with a secondary strike role, Italian Harriers are armed with a 25mm gun with 300 rounds, Maverick, Sidewinder and AMRAAM missiles, rocket pods, unguided bombs and laser-guided bombs.

Up to eight Harriers can be embarked on the Cavour, which is equipped with a ski-ramp, enabling Harriers to perform a rolling take-off within a length of 183m.

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Spotter Magazine Issue 14  

Free online aviation magazine. Italian Navy Harriers, Tunis Carthage Airport, SOFIA 747SP, Planespotting, Royal Navy Lynx, Lanseria Airport,...

Spotter Magazine Issue 14  

Free online aviation magazine. Italian Navy Harriers, Tunis Carthage Airport, SOFIA 747SP, Planespotting, Royal Navy Lynx, Lanseria Airport,...

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