Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

Exercise Pitch Black Control Tower visit

RAAF BASE DARWIN TOWER – Observation Deck

Yesterday ASO and some media were invited to the Darwin Control Tower to observe aircraft movements at RAAF Base Darwin.

The RAAF’s 452 Sqn Air Traffic Control, co-ordinate all aircraft movements on the ground and in the local airspace near RAAF Base Darwin, not just during Pitch Black 2016 but throughout the year.

RSAF F-15SG
RSAF F-15SG

After meeting our hosts, we were escorted via lift to the external platform of the tower, just below the observation windows used by the Air Traffic Control team. From this position I could see from one end of the base to the other and the full skyline of Darwin City.

It wasn’t long before aircraft from the participating Air Forces were spooling up engines and taxiing from their respective parking areas to the end of runway 11.

F-16B from 403 Sqn out of Takhli Air Base
F-16B from 403 Sqn out of Takhli Air Base

The full range of aircraft from the RSAF, USAF, TNI-AU and RAAF were observed departing – F-16’s, F-15’s, a G550, a KC-135, F/A-18 classics and the F/A-18F.

To keep sequencing smooth, the commercial and local civilian aircraft were scheduled to depart and arrive in between the fast jets, some waiting for their slots due to different size.

RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-49 77SQN
RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-49 77SQN

Within 90 minutes the first jets were returning, performing the initial and pitch manoeuvre before   touching down with a puff of smoke from their tyres. After exiting the runway, they taxied to their respective lines.

A pleasant surprise was the arrival of a RAAF C-17 Globemaster III, A41-212, landing gracefully before ATC made a quick runway change to runway 29.

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III, A41-212
RAAF C-17 Globemaster III, A41-212

A few more late arrivals and departures before we had to wrap up the afternoon and descend in the elevator to ground level. It was a great day to see the various aircraft movements from a vantage point seldom seen by many.

If you have never seen a mass launch here is some footage by Mark Pourzenic from 2014 Pitch Black –

 

Thank you to FLTLT Daniel Phillips and LACW Amy Richardson from PB.Media@defence.gov.au for arranging the day.

Sid Mitchell

 

2 comments

  1. Great vision, can you advise where it was taken from and over what period of time. Is the the level of activity each day during the exercise? Are the fast jets also operating in the evening?

    1. Hi Derek, the photos were taken from a visit to the Control Tower, the video is from the previous Pitch Black exercise.
      This week they atircraft will generally be departing in two sessions – 10am-11:30am during the day and 7pm-possibly 8pm. They generally return 1.5 – 2 hours later. Thursday night will be the sunset display at Mindil Beach. The Airforce facebook and website pages have the details posted daily.
      Hope that helps.

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