MRH90 Taipan helicopters and aircrew from the 5th Aviation Regiment have made a flying visit to Cloncurry to both renew old friendships and to be prepared ahead of any emergency needs this high-risk weather season.
CAPTION: An Australian Army aircrewman from the 5th Aviation Regiment surveys the town of Cloncurry, from an MRH-90 Taipan helicopter. Story and photo by Captain Carolyn Barnett.
The regiment’s ties to the town were formed during Operation North Queensland Assist 2018/19, which saw for the first time a Joint Task Force (JTF) centred on the 16th Aviation Brigade raised to respond to the unfolding emergency in North West Queensland.
During the response, crews from the 5th Aviation Regiment worked out of Cloncurry to help distribute supplies to farmers and civilian contractors who were cut off by flood waters.
The regiment’s MRH90 helicopters, as part of JTF646, delivered 43 tonnes of fodder to help feed isolated livestock.
During the recent return to Cloncurry, members of the 5th Aviation Regiment met with the local community and children from surrounding schools.
MRH-90 pilot Captain Daniel Moore said the landscape looked vastly different in the floods.
“Looking out over North West Queensland, which is normally very sparse flat terrain, it looked like an ocean when we flew out over there in 2019,” Captain Moore said.
“There were very tiny pockets of land, and all those pockets of land had cattle huddled up next to each other because they had nowhere else to go. It was very surreal.”
MRH-90 pilot Captain Bonnie Hunt said visiting Cloncurry was a great experience for the troops.
“It’s amazing how much the children know about the helicopters,” Captain Hunt said.
“All of us feel privileged to be able to visit again.”
Army Aviation also recently took the opportunity to visit North Rockhampton State High School, dropping in with a CH-47F Chinook.
Aircrewman Corporal Michael Keillor said he enjoyed opportunities that enable interaction with the community.
“It is great to have the opportunity to give people a chance to look at a Chinook helicopter and talk about how we can help if called upon to assist,” Corporal Keillor said.
“While all services play their part, the Chinook provides its own special capability.”