Aviation Spotters Online was recently afforded the privilege to be present onboard a recent media flight that took place at Royal Australian Air Force Base Edinburgh, South Australia, situated some 25km north of the city of Adelaide, Thursday the 26th September 2019.
The media flight was organised by the Royal Australian Air Force and 28 Squadron to help promote the upcoming Edinburgh Airshow that will be held over the weekend of the 9th and 10th of November 2019. This will be the first Airshow held at Edinburgh since 2007, and will feature many warbirds, aerobatic aircraft and current frontline types such as the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, and the crack aerobatic team The Roulettes, that have recently transitioned to their new mount, the Pilatus PC-21.
Instructions were given to arrive at the front gate of RAAF Edinburgh at 9am sharp. On arrival, our names where ticked off and visitor passes handed out before a short bus trip to the Air Movements hangar, where the gathered media were briefed about safety onboard our aircraft for the flight, that being an Richmond based 37 Squadron, Lockheed C-130J Hercules, A97-449.
Following our brief, we were once again on the move, this time to the Air Movements lounge where our captain for the flight, Flight Lieutenant John Ayers, gave us a short brief on what to expect, and helped us all feel relaxed. Once finished, our loadmasters also spoke to all gathered about the finer points regarding our time onboard the C-130J Hercules.
As this was strictly a media flight, and we were all there to gather imagery and vision, limited spots were available to gain ramp access to record the formation of aircraft that would be trailing us during our flight over Adelaide’s surrounds and the CBD.
Our subjects for this flight were a pair of Pilatus PC-9A training aircraft, A23-007 & A23-062, belonging to the Edinburgh based Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU), that are due for retirement in the coming months, and newly acquired maritime patrol aircraft, Boeing P-8A Poseidon, A47-003 from 11 Squadron, also home based at Edinburgh.
Being very fortunate and excited to be named as part of the first group to have ramp access, we were instructed by the loadmasters before we left the Air Movements lounge, to assemble at the rear of the Hercules so that we could all get our safety harnesses fitted, and be ready to go once airborne, as there were a few steps in making sure the harnesses were fitted correctly.
Once airborne, it wasn’t long before our group was instructed to get our safety straps attached to our harness prior to the ramp door opening. With a touch of turbulence and the aircraft moving about, the adrenaline was pumping and excitement building. With the rear cargo door now raised, and the rush of cool air filling the cargo hold of the Hercules, our loadmasters motioned us to move forward and up the ramp, then lay down on our stomachs, and crawl forward to the edge, to be greeted by a solo Pilatus PC-9A as it flew no more than what seemed an arms distance away, whilst flying at 4,000 feet above the earth, a truly surreal moment.
Within minutes, a second PC-9A appeared, and both aircraft joined up and behind the Hercules port side, as in the distance, the Boeing P-8A Poseidon came into view, before it started edging up closer behind our aircraft giving us all a fantastic view of the RAAF’s newest acquisition to the fleet. With many media representatives onboard this flight, our time was limited, and with a tap by the loadmaster signalling that our time was up, and with the rear cargo door now closed, we had to quickly take our safety harnesses off, and let the second group get fitted and assume their positions on the ramp.
As our flight was now heading over Adelaide’s CBD, the view out of the Hercules port windows was truly breathtaking, as we were flying fairly low over the suburbs and city, in a formation of aircraft not seen anywhere prior to this day.
Opportunities to get inside the cockpit and capture imagery were offered, which gave a different perspective of the formation as it flew above, and forward of our Hercules aircraft making it a truly memorable sight to behold. Once down from the cockpit, it was a matter of finding a window to catch the last of the formation as the fuel status of the PC-9A’s limited their time in the air, and before long, we were motioned to take our seats along the length of the aircraft, and prepare for landing back at Edinburgh, with wheels down around 12:30pm.
After deplaning, the offer was given to walk around the hardstand to grab some imagery of the static aircraft, before interviews with aircrew and officials commenced.
Aviation Spotters Online would like to take this opportunity to thank the RAAF media team, 28 Squadron, the staff and Squadron personnel at RAAF Base Edinburgh, and to the crew from 37 Squadron that provided such a comfortable and safe flight.
For ticketing and information for the upcoming Edinburgh 2019 Airshow, follow the links here –