PCDU Episode 121: Exercise Pitch Black 2014

During August, Grant spent a week in Darwin covering Exercise Pitch Black 2014, a major multinational “war game” exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force.

RSAF F15 at dusk in Darwin

RSAF F15 at dusk in Darwin

Held every two years, Pitch Black is Australia’s version of the Red Flag training exercises held in the USA and in 2014 the RAAF was joined by forces from the US, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand, France and the United Arab Emirates.

Grant joined Andrew McLaughlin, Nigel Pittaway, Mike Yeo and Eng Tiong Ow to experience fantastic access to the local & visiting forces thanks to the efforts of FLTLT Eamon Hamilton. From meeting with representatives from each group attending Pitch Black to being beside the runways & taxiways at Darwin & Tindal, we were able to capture some fantastic photos, videos & interviews.

In addition to Grant’s collection of Pitch Black 2014 content, Steve & ATC Ben recorded a chat with Ryan Campbell about his new book and his ideas for future projects.

At the time we recorded the wrappers for this episode, Steve was about to head to the USA for a family holiday and to cover the Red Bull Air Race in Las Vegas while Grant was geting ready to go to Auckland for the Wings Over New Zealand forum gathering. Unfortunately there were delays in getting everything finished so the episode didn’t come out until after the boys had left on their flights. Go figure :)

The episode’s details are:

  • 0:08:20 –
    GPCAPT "Micka" Gray - Officer Commanding Exercise Pitch Black 2014

    GPCAPT “Micka” Gray – Officer Commanding Exercise Pitch Black 2014

    Grant’s coverage of Exercise Pitch Black 2014
    • 0:09:22 – General media “door stop” interview with GPCAPT “Micka” Gray
       
    • 0:17:05 – FLTLT Ben Daly talks about the roles of Air Combat Officer (ACO) and Fighter Combat Controller (FCC)
       
    • 0:22:03 – FLGOFF Kathryn Koslowicz talks about the day to day tasks of an Air Combat Officer (ACO) and being deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO)
       
    • 0:26:31 – FLTLT Ben Daly takes us through No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit’s operations cabins and how they’re used to deploy & manage operations in remote locations
       
    • 0:31:25 – SQNLDR Tim Main reviews the RAAF’s new E7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft
       
    • 0:40:15 – Lt Col Scott Arbogast is the commander of the US ANG F16s & he tells us about their role in the exercise
       
    • 0:46:02 – CMSgt Joseph Smiley discusses the logistics behind getting the US ANG F16s to Australia, keeping them running here and then getting them back home afterwards
       
    • 0:52:34 –
      French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC) CASA CN235 Transport

      French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC) CASA CN235 Transport

      WGCDR Ben Sleeman, CO of 77 SQN, tells us about being the defender
       
    • 1:00:42 – SQNLDR Rob Crawford talks about the 37SQN C130J he brought up to Tindal
       
    • 1:04:56 – WOFF Kyle Lovett is a refuelling operator (aka “boomer”) on 33SQN’s KC30A MRTTs and he walks us through a typical mission they’ve been flying
       
    • 1:14:39 – FLTLT Adam Rouessart & FLGOFF Matthew Bleach were the crew for the F18F Super Hornet handling display during the week
       
    • 1:18:52 – CASA CN235 crew from the French Armed Forces of New Caledonia
       
    • 1:29:24 – RTAF WGCDR Titan
       
    • 1:33:44 –
      RTAF SAAB Jas 39 Gripen departing Darwin

      RTAF SAAB Jas 39 Gripen departing Darwin

      Mick Gablonski is the CHC base manager for the S61 SAR helicopter at Tindal
       
    • 1:42:19 – Nobby has been part of the team restoring Graham Hosking’s F4U-5N Corsair & he lets us in on some of the effort required to bring it to flight status
       
  • 1:48:05 – Steve & ATC Ben chat with Ryan Campbell about his new book “Born to Fly” and his ideas for the future
     
  • 2:15:11 – Steve & Grant return to wrap up the episode with the following shout outs:

RAAF F18 Hornets doing a paired take-off

RAAF F18 Hornets doing a paired take-off

Grant is very impressed with Graham Hosking's F4U-5N Corsair

Grant is very impressed with Graham Hosking’s F4U-5N Corsair


CHC's Sikorsky S61 SAR Helicopter

CHC’s Sikorsky S61 SAR Helicopter

Our small group of Aviation Media on the RSAF tarmac after our dusk-walk (Eng Tiong Ow, Grant McHerron, Mike Yeo, 2 x RSAF, Andrew McLaughlin, Eamon Hamilton, Nigel Pittaway)

Our small group of Aviation Media on the RSAF tarmac after our dusk-walk
(Eng Tiong Ow, Grant McHerron, Mike Yeo, 2 x RSAF, Andrew McLaughlin, Eamon Hamilton, Nigel Pittaway)

PCDU Episode 119: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: The RAAF Approach

With Australia’s confirmed purchase of a total of 72 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, Steve & Grant are joined by Andrew McLaughlin from COMINT (Communications Intelligence) to discuss the F-35 and its operation within the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). We also feature a number of great interviews with Lockheed Martin staff and an in-depth discussion with Air Vice Marshall Kym “Koz” Osley regarding the work required to integrate the F35 into the RAAF.

F-35A, B & C models (Image supplied by Lockheed Martin)

F-35A, B & C models
(Image supplied by Lockheed Martin)

After an introductory discussion on the F35 between Andrew, Steve & Grant, this episode features:

  • 0:09:49 - Excerpts from the press conference held at RAAF Base Pt Cook in March 2014 where AVM Kym Osley discussed the F35 purchase and Deputy Chief of Air Force (DCAF) AVM Leo Davies introduced the first two RAAF pilots to go to the USA for F35 training: SQN LDR David “Belly” Bell & SQN LDR Andrew “Jacko” Jackson.
     
  • 0:13:19 - Lockheed Martin test pilot Billie Flynn talks to us about his career from a Canadian F18 pilot seeing combat in Kosovo to a test pilot on the Eurofighter Typhoon and on to the F35.
     
    Australia's first two F35 pilots: SQN LDR Andrew 'Jacko' Jackson & SQN LDR David 'Belly' Bell

    Australia’s first two F35 pilots:
    SQN LDR Andrew ‘Jacko’ Jackson & SQN LDR David ‘Belly’ Bell

  • 0:23:17 - Graham Bentley is ex-RAAF and the Lockheed Martin Business Development Manager in Australia. We talk to him about his career from flying P3 Orions to commanding the Australian Forces in the Middle East and on to his role as Air Attache in Washington, USA. He also discusses LockMart’s preparations to bring the F35 to Australia and the technologies it’ll bring with it.
     
  • 0:32:42 - Steven L Over, Lockheed Martin’s Director of F-35 International Business Development, talks to us about component manufacturing being undertaken within Australia.
     
  • 0:40:44 - Billie Flynn returns to talk with Grant in more detail regarding the F-35’s new high-tech helmet.
     
    Billie Flynn running Steve through the cockpit of the F35

    Billie Flynn running Steve through the cockpit of the F35

  • 0:52:39 - Grant catches up with AVM Kym “Koz” Osley for an in-depth discussion on the work involved in bringing the F-35 into the RAAF, including infrastructure construction at airports, staffing & training, support equipment and perhaps the most complex part of the F-35’s support environment: Autonomic Logistics Information System (aka “ALIS”)
     
  • 1:52:49 - We wrap up the episode with a further discussion between Andrew, Steve & Grant on the F-35 aircraft, the program and the potential for Australia to operate the F-35B on our new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships (gotta use that ski-ramp, right?)

Grant gets to check out the F-35 cockpit. Fortunately it has burners, just like his hot air balloon :)

Grant gets to check out the F-35 cockpit. Fortunately it has burners, just like a hot air balloon :)



 

Cover image thanks to Lockheed Martin

PCDU Episode 103: Avalon 2013 – Day Three

Grant & Steve are sorting out the RAAF C-17 flight deckDay Three of Avalon 2013 brought us a busy schedule of interviews and aviation experiences. From a Gulfstream G650 to the RAAF’s C17 heavy transport, we’ve been running around shooting even more video and recording interviews, such as those that make up today’s episode:

  • We talk to Flight Lieutenant Tony O’Neil & Flight Lieutenant Mathew Stade about being the crew who fly the RAAF’s F18F Super Hornet solo demonstration
  • Grant chats with Mike Jarrett (Gulfstream’s Large Cabin demo pilot) while sitting in the cockpit of the G650
  • Grant chats with Charles Cheesman from ECO 2000 about their Zi-400 aircraft cleaner
  • ATC_Ben talks to Gerhard Jordaan (Company Development Pilot for GippsAero) about the experimental GA-10 prototype
  • We talk to Flight Lieutenant Robert Cousland & Flying Officer Paolo Neri about being crew in the four-aircraft RAAF F18F Super Hornet formation display team
  • Flight Lieutenant David “Dash” Lee & Flight Lieutenant Rhys Brown talk to us about the Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft’s entry into service and its recent appearance at Cope North in Guam
  • Grant gives us a quick tarmac summary as the alignment of our schedules with those of Papa Smurf & Timbo didn’t give us any time to meet with them.

PCDU Episode 102: Avalon 2013 – Day Two

Jeremy Miller meeting with Chris Sperou at Avalon 2013Day Two of the Avalon 2013 Airshow has kept Team PCDU very busy shooting video & recording interviews. Here’s some of the content we recorded today:

  • Captain Robin Pursey, Chief Pilot for Airbus Corporate Jets talks about flying the ACJ319
  • David Velupillai, Marketing Director for Airbus Corporate Jets discusses interior fit outs & typical missions for ACJs
  • Steve meets with one of the UAV Challenge teams
  • Andrew Duggan, Managing Director of Insitu Pacific, discusses the Scan Eagle & Integrator drones
  • Flying Officer Brent Jones, F-18 pilot with 77 Squadron, talks about aspects of air to air refuelling & the training involved
  • In the Keyhole with Papa Smurf
  • Timbo’s Tarmac

PCDU Episode 98: Farewell 2012

Dan O'Donnell & Grant getting ready to go fly Matt Hall's Extra 300As 2012 draws to a close come & spend a bit of time with Steve, Grant, Bas & ATC Ben as they wrap up the year with some new content, some discussions and a bit of fun. It’s another long episode but we think it’s a pretty good way to send out the year :)

The episode unfolds as:

  • 0:03:30 – We discuss issues CASA are having with RA-Aus that has seen a number of LSA grounded due to administrative issues, one of which was Bas’ own aircraft
     
  • 0:21:35 – An update on the fight to save Aldinga Aerodrome
     
  • 0:29:10 – An interview Steve & Grant recorded with Brian & Rick from Commando Skydivers at the recent Tooradin Aviation Day
     
  • 0:40:33 – a chat we recorded with Dan O’Donnell (RAAF F18 pilot who also flies with Matt Hall Racing) and Angie Morino (from Aus Air Services)
     
  • 0:57:42 – Anthony Simmons returns at last with The View From The Lounge #13: The Phantom Dolmades Roller
     
  • 1:03:14 – Steven Pam has sent us a Christmas Greeting
     
  • 1:04:54 – Steve, Grant, Bas & ATC_Ben discuss the View from the Lounge and Top Gun
     
  • NOTE: The Collective View From The Lounge is a compilation audio CD featuring 14 TVFTL segments that you can package for AUS$7.50 (posted within Australia) or AUS$12.50 (posted internationally). It’s a great collection of Anthony Simmons at his best & makes for a lot of enjoyable listening. You can purchase it by using our “Donate” button to send through your $$$ & note that you’re buying a copy in the “Purpose” message box. We can sort out your address via emails once the order is in :)
     
     
  • 1:07:17 – Bas talks about the latest updates to the OzRunways app and gives us his response to the “OzRunways for Android” lobby on Facebook
     
  • 1:16:51 – ATC_Ben talks about becoming an On Job Trainer Instructor in the ATC world
     
  • 1:21:34 – CASA have introduced a Notice of Final Rule Making regarding the use of EFBs in Australian skies (PDF) – and the news is good, according to Bas
     
  • 1:32:12 – Tech in the cockpit comes up along with the inevitable IOS vs Android vs Windows 8 with Bas in the Blue Corner and Grant in the Red Corner. DING!!!!
     
  • 1:33:16 – Ben Jones sends us a Christmas greeting
     
  • 1:33:39 – Damien Rose also sends us a Christmas greeting
     
  • 1:25:12 – We spend some time reviewing the highlights of 2012, including:
    • Grant got his balloon license
    • ATC_Ben went to the USA and Oshkosh 2012
    • Steve got a C130 ride over Sydney
    • Bas changed his work and lifestyle to focus on OzRunways, allowing him to work for himself and move to a property where he’s setting up a runway on the front yard (now, where have we heard *that* phrase before? :) )
       
  • 1:43:49 – We look forward to 2013 and talk a little about our Avalon 2013 plans and how we’re always up for new sponsors for our Avalon coverage
     
  • 1:50:13 – We give shout-outs to those who have helped us over 2012, including:
    • Sponsors & Advertisers: JetRide Australia, OzRunways, , AvSoft & Adventure Wings
    • Those who helped make AusFly such a success: QBE Insurance, Aero Refuellers & Narromine Shire Council
    • Courtney Miller & Max Flight for inspiring PCDU
    • Cathey Visscher & Kitt Loughman for their on-going support behind the scenes and their endless roles as “podcast widows”
    • Of course, a big thanks goes out to our audience for doing us the honour of listening to our programme, supporting it, interacting with us and much much more

With 2013 practically on top of us, we’re going to enjoy some New Year celebrations and then get back to work on completing Episode 99 which covers the C130H retirement & is due out in late January.

PCDU Episode 96: “Serge” – An Australian Top Gun

Serge’s “Fighter Pilot” book cover

It takes a special breed to push an F18 out to the edge of the envelope, fly missions ranging from surface attack to dog fights and then blow off steam with your squadron mates. It’s certainly not Top Gun but it does make amazing fodder for a book that highlights the good, the bad and the crazy.

Just such a book has been written by ‘Mac “Serge” Tucker‘ and it’s called “Fighter Pilot: mis-adventures beyond the sound barrier with an Australian Top Gun

Steve & Grant chat to “Serge” about being a fighter pilot, flying & partying hard, blowing off steam and dealing with bureaucrats. We also cover:

  • The size of the fighter community in Australia and the camaraderie that has developed among them
  • The mentoring that occurs within the community covering both technical & behavioural aspects of being a fighter pilot
  • The interaction of fighter pilots with pilots from other parts of the RAAF
  • Serge’s career progressing from high school through basic training in the CT4, progression to the Aermacchi MB 326H (the Macchi) and on to the F18 via a stint on the Nomad.
  • Wing Commander Ross Fox’s influence as Serge’s mentor and the impact of his death in an F18 mid-air collision
  • Serge’s thoughts on the Australian Army & Royal Australian Navy
  • Working with the fighter pilots from the USA & comparing USA pilots with RAAF pilots
  • Old timer stories and their influence on current procedures
  • RAAF exchange pilots flying F15s & F22s with the USAF
  • The F35 JSF and its issues with kinematics
  • Drones and their use in the military environment
  • How the military have missed out on changing their operations & equipment to deal better with the Middle East environment & the modern political power dynamics
  • Serge’s love of hang gliding
  • Transitioning from being a fighter pilot to being an airline pilot
  • His final flight: a one-on-one dogfight with Matt Hall

PCDU Episode 65: Innovative Ideas

There’s no denying that aviation has been the home of many innovative ideas when it comes to aerodynamics, systems and so on. Sometimes we even get to hear about innovation in many of the business & training aspects of aviation and this episode is bringing us a few of them, from new ways to bring aviation education to kids through to recognising the need to store aircraft in the Asia/Pacific area. We also have a number of other content items including a few more of our Avalon interviews.

Eagle Microlight at Porepunkah

This episode contains:

  • Tom Vincent from Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) talking about the new “boneyard” facility they are creating at Alice Springs in the middle of Australia
  • Angelina Morino from Aus Air Services joins us again to review their past year of operation and discuss their involvement with Brentwood College (Steve’s old high school) to provide aviation study to students. They’re also planning to extend this out to other high schools in the area. NOTE: As with Peter Dow at TVSA, it’s great to see local flying schools thinking outside the box to make it easier and/or cheaper to learn to fly)
  • Some more content from Avalon, including:
    • The crew of a KC135 tanker
    • Flying Officer Johnno Pearson on flying the F/A-18 Hornet
    • Flight Lt Liam Webler, a techo who helps to keep the F/A-18 Hornet in the air
  • Steve & Lisa Ruffles talk about their Eagle School of Microlighting at Porepunkah

The view of the runway and "ramp" at Porepunkah

We wrap up with the following Listener Mail and Shout Outs:

  • Miles Rados wrote in about gliding at Tocumwal
  • Toby Robb wrote in about Steve’s recent microphone levels and had some comments on our recent chat with Dick Smith
  • The Airplane Geeks podcast reaches episode 150 – well done, guys!
  • Kudos to the RAAF social media team for helping to promote our work via the “I love jet noise” Facebook page
  • There’s a new aviation podcast – The Stuck Mic AvCast – from the folks at The Pilot Report. They’re two episodes in and have been producing great content so far
  • PCDU can now be found on Stitcher & SlapDash Radio
  • Thanks to all those who’ve left feedback at the iTunes store – much appreciated and keep it up!
  • Don’t forget to check out our website where we’ve made some recent layout changes plus we’ve also been loading more videos on our YouTube channel.

PCDU Episode 54: Avalon Quick Cast #1

It’s time once again for the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition (aka Avalon 2011) and Team PCDU are there to arrange interviews with people & organisations that catch our eye. Today was our first day at the airshow and while much of it was spent meeting people & setting up our schedule for the week, we still managed to:

  • Interview Dr Brendan Nelson who was Australia’s Defence Minister during 2006-2007 and, in addition to scoring a couple of rides in F18 Super Hornets, also signed off the purchase of Super Hornets & C17s for the RAAF, the MRH-90 helicopters and many more new projects that are now reality
  • Talk to Mark Robinson & Martin Hoffensetz from SAAB about the “Virtual Control Tower” systems they’re presenting to AirServices here in Australia. These systems will allow people to manage control towers from remote locations and could potentially be on trial here in Australia in the near future
  • Discuss flight training options with Peter Dow from TVSA Pilot Training including the incredible effort he has put into establishing TVSA as Australia’s first ever VET FEE-HELP endorsed aviation school, allowing students to defer payment of part or all of their tuition fees until they obtain paying work
  • Introduce our first “Timbo’s Tarmac” and “Through the Keyhole with Papa Smurf” segments. These will feature daily chats with tarmac operations staff covering newly arrived aircraft and issues that cropped up during the day

      Not bad for a first day’s effort. There were a few more chats we recorded but they’ll be carried over to tomorrow’s Quick Cast or a post-Avalon episode we release after the dust has settled. Despite that, it’s still a 50 minute episode so we’re going to attempt a bit of trimming on tomorrow’s episode as our goal is to be about 30 minutes :)

      These Avalon Quick Cast episodes are being sponsored by Aviation Advertiser and supported by Red Baron and Temby Automotive.

PCDU Episode 29: What’s in a Checklist?

Some in-cockpit audio provided by a listener triggered a discussion on the differences in pre-landing checklists (GUMPS vs BUMFTH vs BUMFOH vs whatever). All of Grant’s aviation books & manuals are still in boxes after moving house so he had to rely on his memory with predictable results. Talk about incentive to go out and get current again…

Given we couldn’t do a whole episode around the concept of “gas” in different countries, we also discuss recent aviation news items (so many to chose from lately) and have a collection of interviews we recorded at the RAAF’s Air Pageant at Point Cook.

Here’s how the episode hangs together this time:

As usual, our theme music track is “YouNameIt5″ by Brian Simpson (aka t3cat5) and our sound effects come from SoundSnap.com.

PCDU Episode 7: Matt Hall, we’re not worthy!

This episode detours from our usual opinionated discussion of the news and instead features an interview we were fortunate enough to arrange with Matt Hall, an ex-RAAF F18 pilot who has flown the F15 on exchange with the USAF and is currently flying an MXS aerobatic aircraft in the RedBull AirRace. We were expecting to get a half hour or so to chat with Matt and were thrilled to discover an hour had passed before we all thought to double check the time.

 

The discussion ranges from Matt’s early days learning to fly through to his experiences with the RAAF and USAF then on to flying in the RedBull AirRace. Matt talks with us on many topics, including gliders, air-to-air refuelling, pylon hits and the dreaded bridge.Matt Hall - RAAF

 

We were delighted that Matt accepted our request for an interview and cannot sufficiently express our gratitude for his time. We’re looking forward to following his progress through the remaining races this year and chatting with him again at the end of the season.

 

 

You can find Matt on his home page, Wikipedia, FaceBook, Flickr and Twitter. Be sure to join up to follow his progress in the races and show your support.