Pitch black gives back

Exercise Pitch Black participants spent a significant period of time engaging with the local Darwin, Katherine and Batchelor community in the weeks leading up to and during the exercise.

Community engagements included the distribution of approximately 30,000 brochures at the Katherine and Darwin Shows, Tourism information Centres, Mindil Beach Markets and other local outlets as well as presentations at local schools, learning centres, Scouts and the Royal Darwin Hospital.

Head of Air Shows and spokesperson for the Exercise, Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Noddy Sawade said that engaging with the local community is a vital element of Exercise Pitch Black. 

 “Community Engagement is not just about visiting schools, but sharing with the community where they can access key information,” AIRCDRE Sawade said.

“This year we were able to post the flying windows on our website to assist the Darwin, Batchelor and Katherine communities with information about the increase in aircraft noise,” AIRCDRE Sawade said.

“By talking to students in these regions, we are also able to spike interest and explain why this type of training is so important,” AIRCDRE Sawade said. 

The visits were conducted by a variety of personnel from participating Squadrons who were offered the opportunity to talk about their specific role as part of Exercise Pitch Black.

During the second week, children of the Royal Darwin Hospital Paediatrics ward spent time with No. 36 Squadron Loadmaster, Sergeant (SGT) Madison Parsons, when they built model aircraft and had the opportunity to try on her helmet.

Having grown up in Darwin, SGT Parsons said the visit brought back fond memories of what it’s like being a kid in the Territory.

“I remember being in that same ward with all sorts of injuries,” SGT Parsons said.

“I know what it’s like having to spend time there, so being able to talk and entertain the kids felt extremely rewarding, especially when some of the younger ones were wearing my helmet,” she said.

For SGT Parsons, the visit also bought on a sense of personal pride.

“Talking to the children really put into perspective how far I’ve come in my career – as a kid, I never thought I’d get here so having them put on my helmet really made me feel proud,” she said.

Overall, a total of 20 visits were conducted during Exercise Pitch Black period across Darwin, Batchelor and Katherine providing information and an opportunity to discuss all sorts of aspects of Exercise Pitch Black.  

By FLGOFF Deanna Ellick

Download the imagery from the exercise here: https://images.defence.gov.au/assets/archives/5054-Pitch%20Black%202018/