Updated 2 March
A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules made at least one possibly two 4600km return trips across the Tasman Sea to ensure the RAAF’s part in this year’s Wings Over Wairarapa air show in New Zealand went on despite the coronavirus pandemic.
CAPTION: A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules from No. 37 Squadron takes off from RAAF Base Amberley. Photo by Corporal Jesse Kane.
We know a RAAF Hercules participated in the show on Saturday, February 27, and was also planned appear on the practice day, Friday, February 26, flying from and returning to RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney’s north-west.
The Hercules was not scheduled to appear on the Sunday, but that day was cancelled in any case, because of a short-notice COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand.
The Hercules’ crew were scheduled to conduct an ‘initial and pitch’ before the crowds at Hood Aerodrome on New Zealand’s North Island, before landing the aircraft on the runway and coming to a stop.
The crew then reversed the Hercules back along the runway, and took off for the return flight to Australia without exiting the aircraft in New Zealand to mitigate any risks associated with COVID-19.
Temporary Commanding Officer of No. 37 Squadron Squadron Leader John Ayers said the participation in the air show would demonstrate the RAAF’s capabilities.
“The two air forces have a long history of working together and the RAAF support to the Wings Over Wairarapa air show is another example of this strong relationship,” he said.
In recent years, RAAF Hercules have integrated with the New Zealand responses to evacuate injured patients following the White Island volcano disaster, as well as delivering urban search-and-rescue teams following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
The RAAF C-130J is the same model that will soon be introduced into the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a replacement for its C-130H Hercules.