RAAF Round: On board for the flyover

Ahead of Saturday’s RAAF Round, we caught up with the man in charge of the all-important pregame flyover.

Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) ‘Reyno’ from the 77th Squadron – one of the last remaining squadrons flying the F/A-18s out of the RAAF Base at Williamtown – has been given the responsibility of venturing over McDonald Jones Stadium before the start of our final #F3Derby for 2018/19.

Starting his career in Williamtown after a move from Tasmania, ‘Reyno’ was also based in Australia’s top end having spent a number of years in the Northern Territory before a return to Newcastle.

It’s a sacrifice that many of our servicemen and women make year-on-year, moving to different corners of the country as part of their work in the armed forces.

RAAF Round
Kaine Sheppard and Steve Ugarkovic on base this week

For ‘Reyno’, the original decision to move was an easy one.

“There’s nothing in Tassie that allows me to fly fast jets,” he joked.

“I like flying them because it’s basically two engines with wings built on it, and a seat in there somewhere.

“Generally speaking they weigh anything from 15-20 tonnes, that’s based on fuel and any other extra ordinates you’re carrying and they’ve got a top speed of twice the speed of sound – covering close to 20 nautical miles a minute.”

In speaking with the Flight Lieutenant, it’s easy to see the passion he has for his work and Saturday’s flyover is an opportunity to have some fun.

“It’s a chance to showcase what the RAAF does and the hard-working people behind it, we’re still the same old people that live in Newcastle and support our Jets.”

Now for the all-important question, which direction will ‘Reyno’ be coming from on Saturday?

He’s told fans to have their eyes firmly locked on the north end of the ground, with the show to begin as the boys are taking the field!

Flyover
The flyover in action in 2017/18

“It’s completely weather dependant, but the plan is to take off from Williamtown about 20 minutes before I’m scheduled to flyover and then I’ll hold outside of earshot.”

Earshot he says, is about 15 – 20 kilometres away.

“Then I’ll just be waiting for our time on target, but generally we can set it up so we’re flying overhead at exactly the right time from exactly the right place.

The speed in which the F/A-18 will be travelling hinges on one key factor – sound.

“It depends on how loud we can be, often a lot of people don’t like jets that are low, fast and loud without warning,” he said.

“If you’re planning to go over the township you’re generally flying at around 700 to 800 kilometres an hour, anywhere from 200 – 300 metres above the ground.

“It’s hard to say [how loud] because most of the time people compare something to a jet engine, but it’d probably similar to a full MCG.”

So pretty much an at-capacity 100,000-seat stadium – impressive.

As part of the show you’ll see ‘Reyno’ put the afterburners on, and he’s told us to look out for the ‘orange and purple glow’ from the two motors.

Throwing on those after burners is pretty serious business with ‘Reyno’ explaining that the F/A-18 will drop a family car’s worth of petrol every second at top speed.

The much-anticipated flyover will be done and dusted in quick time, but after chatting with ‘Reyno’ we can’t wait for Saturday’s pre-game entertainment!