Air Force flyby. Fail.

Today was a glorious Canberra autumn day. Not a cloud in the sky. Kelly, Juno and I waited at our vantage spot besides lake Burley Griffin expectantly, along with 1000’s of other Canberrans. 

The flyover was in celebration of 100 years since the Australian Air Corps became the Australian Air Force.

The heavily promoted build-up promised an exciting aerial procession of more than 60 aircraft including a Super Hornet, Black Hawk helicopters, C-130 Hercules, Seahawk and Spitfires.
And for dessert, some smoke trail aerobatics from The Roulettes. 

All this sounded pretty cool.
Unfortunately, the whole experience was underwhelming.
It shouldn’t have been, but it was.

To start off the display was supposed to begin at 1030.  We all waited. A few aircraft flew past in ones and twos obviously heading out to some over the horizon holding pattern in preparation.

Closer to 1130 the flyover commenced propper.

It consisted of small bunches of aircraft (2-4 apiece) separated from the next bunch by way too long (up to over 5 minutes in some cases). So the whole thing seemed like a dribble past rather than any spectacular procession of Australian military aviation history.

Compounding the mediocrity, they flew past way too high. I totally understand there are rules and regulations regarding flying altitudes and whatnot. And I imagine the air traffic control logistics of choreographing a flyby of 60 aircraft that all travel at different cruising speeds might be tricky. 

But really? Conditions were perfect and dropping a little lower so the crowds might actually appreciate some detail would have been useful.

I’m not asking to high-five the copilot as they pass, but just low enough to make it a memorable encounter. After all, this is a one in one hundred year celebration.

Even the helicopters didn’t really come down to say hello.
It was almost as if the whole show had somewhere else more important it needed to be.
The word pissy comes to mind.

So we all squinted up into the overhead sun and snapped pics on our smartphones. No doubt we will swipe back through our albums in the future, our memories of the celebration un-enhanced by un-impressive grey specks and metallic blobs.

Thankfully the Roulettes did not disappoint. But even they seemed to be flying higher than I remember from previous encounters.
Before they had even finished, we had also decided we had somewhere more important to be.


Rating: 1 out of 5.

6 responses to “Air Force flyby. Fail.”

  1. Socially distanced aircraft, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stuart Bullock Avatar
    Stuart Bullock

    I don’t think they have that many height rules. Several of the planes, including the F-18s and Orions, flew directly over my house at about two hundred or so metres. They were close enough for me to see the missile racks or whatever they are on the wings. I should’ve taken a few photos, but it’d only show the underside. The Orions were pretty cool, though.

    But the helicopters, spitfires and other planes I didn’t see at all, although I heard them from a distance. The jets were low and loud enough to scare the cockatoos across the road, and they flew back to their eucalyptus trees. Probably throwing high fives other for escaping the loud, grey predator.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And they did not bomb Parliament House. Not that the F35 is able to do anything. The Americans have written it off as a failure. An expensive one.


  4. Every day is indeed a good day and getting coffee is a bonus! Too many folk at the NMA so we brewed our own at home ☕️☺️
    ps: Dick Smith was standing by us & I think he was pretty happy seeing all those aircraft!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Ian!
    Sorry you thought the Fly Over mediocre. Were you able to collect the pamphlet detailing the timing & each aircraft formation? We found it really helpful and they did start pretty well to time. This was available at the National Museum where the event from Govt House was also on the big screen.
    At least the sun was shining & hope you managed to get coffee too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susan,
      No we didn’t have a copy of the pamphlet. Perhaps that would have helped a little.
      Sounds like you enjoyed it a lot more than we did 👍
      But what a glorious morning! And afterwards we discovered a new coffee shop that made a great brew.
      So as they say: every day is a good day.


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