Exercise Pitch Black Open Day draws thousands

Thousands of aviation enthusiasts flooded through the RAAF Base Darwin gates to get up close and personal to the Australian and international aircraft and vehicles on display at the 2018 Pitch Black Open Day.

Families and military aircraft fans enjoyed the free community event and a rare opportunity to meet the crews and personnel who fly, operate and maintain these machines.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to the Northern Territory community for their ongoing support during Exercise Pitch Black,” said Air Commodore Noddy Sawade, RAAF Director Air Shows.

“The Open Day provides an opportunity to show our appreciation and a great chance for the public to learn about what we do during the training exercise,” said AIRCDRE Sawade.

“It’s great to showcase aircraft and people to our visitors, the Northern Territory really is a beautiful part of Australia and we feel proud to be part of the community."

This year’s Open Day showcased aircraft from many of the participating nations including the Indian Air Force Sukhoi, the United States Marine Corps Ospreys and the French Air Force Rafale.

French Air Force Fighter Pilot, Major Kirk, said it’s always interesting at exercises like this to come together with our international friends.

“We cooperate on operations so it’s important to share information on each other’s processors and procedures, exercises like Pitch Black gives us the chance to do that."

“It’s always a pleasure to meet the people of other countries and talk about our country, our aircraft, our Air Force.”

The Pitch Black Open Day also featured military working dog displays, Air Force band performances, interactive exhibits and activities.

Military Working Dog Handler, Aircraftwoman (ACW) Mikaela Sim and her dog Olly, wowed the crowds with a muzzle attack demonstration.

“We really love getting out amongst the Darwin community and showing them what we do every day.

“It’s great for us to have the chance to show people what our dogs are capable of in the protection of our aircraft and air bases,” said ACW Sim.

“The puppies are particularly popular and really enjoy the attention.”

Exercise Pitch Black flying activities ramp up over the next two weeks with Day/Night flying and Low flying activities in airspace over Darwin, Batchelor and Katherine within the Northern Territory.

All flying activities relating to the exercise will commence after 7:00am and cease before 11:00pm, with no exercise mission related flying on weekends.

By FLGOFF Belinda Scott

Download the images here: https://images.defence.gov.au

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=T5sGUmVxGIM

Read the daily flying schedule here.