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Army March 31, 2011
By Sgt Andrew Hetherington
FLYING low over the mouth of
the Yarra River in a two-aircraft
formation, the pilot of 6 Avn
Regt Black Hawk number 102,
Maj M, begins to track towards
On this mission it's the home
of 1 Cdo Regt in Melbourne, Fort
Aircrewmen in the rear scan
the land and sea as the aircraft
heads out over Port Phillip Bay
to make its final approach to the
Instead of offloading fully kit-
ted up Tactical Assault Group-
East soldiers going into battle,
Maj M practises his insertion and
extraction techniques to prepare
for a busy year of exercises and
potential operations with Special
Eight pilots and eight air-
crewmen completed the 6 Avn
Regt advanced flying training
course from March 2-25, flying
over and landing on several of
Melbourne's landmark buildings.
Detachment Commander and
course participant Maj M said
the three-week course based out
of RAAF Base Point Cook was
a necessary qualification for all 6
Avn Regt aircrew.
"The course is run three times
a year and used to qualify pilots
and aircrewmen in the skills
needed to support Special Forces
operations," Maj M said.
"Aircrew need to complete
the course at least once every
12 months to remain current to
serve at the unit.
"We trained in specific flight
profiles, flying to targets where
special operations teams might
need to be dropped at specific
points on the targets."
"Targets" included Fort
Gellibrand and a number of
high-rise buildings and sporting
Maj M said the course was
challenging for both pilots and
"They've used techniques
they haven't used much before
and operated in a dynamic city
environment containing a num-
ber of obstacles," he said.
"To complete the course and
work at the unit aircrew need to
possess and use a high level of
pilot and aircrew skill."
A typical day for students
began by preparing their aircraft
and their flying orders. Crews
then held an orders group and
flew a day and night mission.
Cpl L, an aircrewman who
joined the unit in mid-2010, was
doing the course for the second
"For me it was a refresher,
but the planning phase for each
mission was a challenge because
each person in the crew has their
own role and everyone has to put
in," Cpl L said.
"Before each flight I brief
passengers, make sure the air-
craft is set up for its mission role,
which can take up to two hours.
"From an aircrewman's per-
spective we covered helicopter
insertion and extraction tech-
niques, including fast roping and
rappelling and the use of the air-
crew breathing system."
Although the course was
demanding, Cpl L said there were
highlights during the training.
"The flying was great, travel-
ling to different places, landing at
various targets and it was exciting
to see something different."
Capt H, on his second posting
to 6 Avn Regt as a pilot described
the course as routine having com-
pleted it before. "The flying was
the most enjoyable aspect of the
course and the targets we flew to
were also interesting," he said.
"The course enabled me to
improve my flying skills, allow-
ing me to fly within the perfor-
mance limits of the aircraft."
Maj M said it was a great
opportunity for the unit to train in
"It was nice to get away from
Sydney to train on a variety of
targets, allowing the crews to fur-
ther develop their skills at another
location in Australia."
Aircrew train for
Air mobile: Aircrews from 6 Avn Regt fly over Melbourne during the unit's advanced flying course. Inset: An aircrewman prepares
to board a Black Hawk at RAAF Base Point Cook.
Photos by Sgt Andrew Hetherington
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