As September draws to a close in Brisbane, hundreds of thousands of spectators travel into the city centre for Sunsuper Riverfire. Currently in its 22nd year, Riverfire marks the ending of the Brisbane Festival, an internationally renowned arts festival. The fireworks finale is strongly supported by the Australian Defence Force with a range of flying displays. This year will see both the C-17A Globemaster III and F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Royal Australian Air Force performing over the skies of Brisbane. In the lead up to Saturday’s display, aircrew from both No. 1 Squadron and No. 36 Squadron flew practice sorties down stretches of the Brisbane River.
C-17A Globemaster III
This year’s display marks the 4th year the C-17A has attended Riverfire following displays in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Piloted by SQNLDR Ben Ness — Training Flight Commander for No. 36 Squadron — A41-207 made two passes down the reaches of the Brisbane River, firstly south alongside South Bank and the Riverside Expressway before making a right orbit and heading north along Kangaroo Point Cliffs and ending with a break away overhead the Story Bridge.
Before aircrews fly this display, they undergo an extensive planning and training process. Obstacles such as terrain, towers and buildings are all taken into account with an appropriate flight path generated from this data with the aircraft flying at a minimum altitude of 100m (330ft). Following this, the display is practiced numerous times in a full-motion C-17A training simulator.
F/A-18F Super Hornet
The other highlight from the Royal Australian Air Force was the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. Making their first appearance in over three years at Riverfire, two Super Hornets from No. 1 Squadron from RAAF Base Amberley made a dazzling practice display over the Brisbane CBD on Friday afternoon, much to the delight of onlookers lining the river and surrounding buildings.
Approaching from the west over Toowong, each aircraft then proceeded to make five low-level passes (three down Southbank and two down Kangaroo Point Cliffs). Shooting from 135 metres up on the Riparian Plaza provided an awesome perspective as they passed down the river. Interested in Saturday’s displays? Head over to read part two!