GUNNIN’ IT TO THE TOP AND IT TAKES MY BREATH AWAY
IGNORE the byline. Today, I’m Maverick. Not Goose. Maverick.
Today, this (clear throat) “gun journo” has turned Top Gun. And I’m flying right into the danger zone with the RAAF Roulettes.
With Channel 9’s Emily Prain, yesterday I was treated to a rare passenger flight with the aerobatic aces ahead of their big return show at Riverfire today.
We arrive at 0800 hours at Amberley Air Force base for a medical.
After checking we’re fit to fly, it’s over to the disconcertingly named “Life Support” building for our kit which includes a G-suit, designed to pressurise and stop blood rushing from the brain when the G-forces hit during aerobatic manoeuvres.
It’s 45 degrees when we take off but my pilot, Flight-Lieutenant Des Hales, is reassuringly cool, calm and good-humoured. Just don’t pull that yellow and black handle unless he yells “eject” three times, he warns, or this flight’s going to end abruptly in a parachute ride.
We’re in a three-aircraft formation, commanded by Squadron Leader Jay Tuffley, flying about 3m apart.
We whiz past South Bank in the 550km/h signature red Roulettes PC-9s just 700m from the ground before heading over turquoise Moreton Bay and up to the tip of Moreton Island. Then it’s across to Wivenhoe Dam where it’s time to get upside down. The G-suit is crushing like a boa constrictor as we pull into a series of spectacular loops, barrel rolls and other turns.
The sun’s in my eyes, my heart’s in my mouth and my stomach’s in my throat. We fly back to base but the thrills aren’t over, as the Roulettes perform another rotation before landing.
I’m a little green but I have avoided making a Goose of myself. The vomit bag’s still on the plane, neatly folded.
REAL DEAL: RAAF pilot Jay Tuffley leads out the trio of Roulette PC-9s.