Up close with personnel and their flying machines

Crowds have flocked to see aircraft and meet personnel from Australian and international air forces at the Exercise Pitch Black open day at RAAF Base Darwin.

CAPTION: Craftsman Amber Toner, left, and Craftsman Cameron Powell, from 1st Aviation Regiment, with Emily and Oliver Taaffe and a 70mm rocket from the Tiger helicopter during the Exercise Pitch Black open day at RAAF Base Darwin. Story by Flight Lieutenant Jessica Winnall. Photo by Corporal Kylie Gibson.

Ten countries had static displays of their aircraft, along with interactive exhibits and activities. People could look inside the multi-role tanker transport and see the ever-popular F-35A Lightning II up close.

The free event allowed the public to explore international military aircraft and vehicles, and to meet the crews and personnel who fly and operate them. Food stalls, rides, military working dog displays and the Air Force Band also entertained attendees.

Rodney and Pippa Swan, from Sydney, travelled to Darwin for the Darwin Festival and Exercise Pitch Black.

“The flypast over Mindil Beach was amazing this week – to see the aircraft’s ability, against the stunning backdrop of the sunset, with a meal from the markets – phenomenal,” Ms Swan said.

“The community engagement has been first-rate. We are so lucky to be able to interact with the planes, and the people who fly and maintain them here today.

“If I were to make one request, it would be for more night flying during the exercise – I think that would look amazing over the Darwin sunsets.”

Head of Air Shows for Air Force, Air Commodore Micka Gray, said the open day during Air Force’s largest international exercise was an opportunity to show the public what the air forces do.

“Exercise Pitch Black goes for three weeks. We have lots of flying. The local people see all the aircraft flying in the air, and they wonder what we do and why we make all that noise,” Air Commodore Gray said.

“At the open day, we invite them to come onto the base and all the aircraft are on display. All the air and support crew were there from all the 17 countries that participate.”





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