GUNNIN’ IT TO THE TOP AND IT TAKES MY BREATH AWAY

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - GREG STOLZ

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.

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