Would you say "yes" to flying on a USAF C17?
So there I was on holiday in Melbourne, when Grant called from the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast. I was asked if I would be willing and able to participate in a media flight with the United States Air Force, departing RAAF Base Amberley on one their C17’s.
This sortie would be in support of Talisman Sabre! After a quick phone call to my employer requesting an extension to my holiday, I was able to answer an emphatic YES!
After returning to Queensland a few days later, I found myself standing at the main gate of the RAAF base, along with various aviation, television & print journalists. What a thrill, being able to set foot back on the base I grew up around (my father served in 482 squadron – F111, and 9 squadron – Iroquois), attended cadets and the first location I saw Top Gun… in the RAAF cinema, full of RAAFies enthusiastically cheering on Maverick!
We were first briefed by a member of the RAAF media liaison team, then by a member of the USAF on the details of the flight, like where we were going and what to expect.
After the brief and security screening, were escorted onto the Tarmac for interview and photo opportunities of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and with her crew. I was very fortunate to interview USAF Pilot Jacke Press, on the flight deck of the KC-135. This interview can be heard on Plane Crazy Down Under episode 111.
Enroute I was able to ascend the ladder to the flight deck and interview one of the crew. It was a surreal experience being on the flight deck of an operating USAF C17, with another flying in formation.
On decent to Sholewater Bay, we were ushered to the rear of the aircraft in readiness for the crew to execute their drop. I was very fortunate to be seated in a seat close to the open ramp, providing a great vantage point of all the action (which can be seen at the end of the video below).
After the drop was made, we were instructed to return to our previous seats, strap in and issued with the standard USAF comfort (barf) bag. We were under strict instruction not to leave our seats, or unbuckle for that matter.
For approximately the next 45 minutes were subjected to the low level tactical navigation return flight to RAAF Base Amberley.
What a ride!! I’m guessing that’s what it feels like to be inside a washing machine on the wash cycle! From where I was sitting, I could just see out of one of the 4 pothole windows found in the main cabin (one in each of the 4 personnel doors). I watched as it changed from green to blue to green to blue to brown to blue… you get the idea. There were regular deposits being made into barf bags over that time… none of which were made by yours truly, although I must add there were times I came close. While all of this rocking & rolling was going on, I was surprised and humbled to see the sight of exhausted USAF crew sleeping in their not so comfortable seats!
At the conclusion of the tactical navigation, the C17 pulled into straight and level flight for about 10 minutes, then to finish of the experience a tactical approach was executed, followed by a ‘firm’ touch down.
The ramp was opened for the taxi to parking, providing opportunity for some great photos.
Personally I’d like to thank Steve Visscher & Grant McHeron from Plane Crazy Down Under for organising the once in a lifetime experience, as well as Jake Press and the flight crew of the C17 for taking the time to be interviewed.
Below is video evidence I took of this experience which can also be found on the Plane Crazy Down Under YouTube Channel.