Flying in Exercise Diamond Storm 2022 is a welcome return to the Top End for Flight Lieutenant Michael Marriner.
CAPTION: Flight Lieutenant Marriner, a Pilot from No. 77 Squadron, at RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Diamond Storm 2022. Story by Flight Lieutenant Dee Irwin. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Sam Price
The fighter pilot from Air Force’s No. 77 Squadron was born and schooled in Darwin, joining the Air Force in 2010 to pursue his childhood dream of flying fast jets.
“My grandparents both served during World War II and a love of military aircraft inspired me to join the RAAF,” Flight Lieutenant Marriner said.
“Growing up, my parents would take me to all the Air Force open days where I could get up close to a jet and I’ve just known from a young age that I’ve always wanted to fly fighters.”
Today, Flight Lieutenant Marriner flies the F-35A Lightning II, a highly advanced multi-role, supersonic, stealth fighter.
But his first assignment after completing his training was to fly the F-35A’s predecessor, the F/A-18A Classic Hornet.
His first posting on the Hornet was back in the Top End to No. 75 Squadron at RAAF Base Tindal, approx. 300kms south of Darwin, where he spent more than four years flying.
That was followed by postings to No. 77 Squadron and No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle, where he subsequently completed training as a Fighter Combat Instructor.
This qualified him within Air Force as an expert in advanced tactics and techniques, and allows him to make an essential contribution to Exercise Diamond Storm 22.
The exercise is the culmination of the Air Force’s six-month Air Warfare Instructor Course, which trains a select number of candidates to become instructors in their fields.
“As instructors, the course graduates will be required to operate in a range of environments, cooperating with other Defence units and forces to accomplish their objectives.” Flight Lieutenant Marriner said.
For this proud Darwin local, reflecting back on his childhood dreams of flying fast jets, the reality of how far he has come rings true each time he comes home to participate on exercises such as Diamond Storm.