Big bird makes its last flight over city of Tamworth

ONE of the iconic aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force flew a flyover to farewell Tamworth and Walcha yesterday.

The C-130H Hercules transport aircraft gave plenty of people on the ground a final thrill to see the big, big bird over the skies of Tamworth and Walcha. It was an emotional time for those who once flew them, too.

Australian Defence Force Basic Flying Training School instructor Flight Lieutenant Scott Merrick flew Hercules in 2010/11 when he was based in Richmond.

He trained in Tamworth in 2004 but first flew in the aircraft when he was seven years old because his mum was also in the RAAF.

Flight Lieutenant Merrick said the flypast was emotional for him as he remembered his time flying the aircraft.

“The thing that sticks out for me was when we got to conduct a search and rescue mission in the Solomon Islands,” he said.

“We found the guys we were looking for, but it was special being part of something that happened like that. We were on a training mission to Norfolk Island and were diverted for the mission and we found the guys who were lost and had them rescued. That highlighted for me the flexibility of the aircraft and the crew.

“I know all the guys who were flying the aircraft so it was good.” 

Instructors and students from the flight training school were watching the flyover, although it was about 45 minutess behind the anticipated times.

The sentimental journeys were to mark the historic flying links with the two centres –  Tamworth for its flight training college and academy background and former war time flying camp, and Walcha for its unsealed airfield that has given crews good experience for future service in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

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