FLYING HIGH: Royal Australian Air Force, Squadron 6 Leader Shannon Kennedy, pilot and Flight Lieutenant Mat Murphy, Electronics Warfare Officer, prepare for a spectacular EA-18G Growler display at Riverfire 2018.
FLYING HIGH: Royal Australian Air Force, Squadron 6 Leader Shannon Kennedy, pilot and Flight Lieutenant Mat Murphy, Electronics Warfare Officer, prepare for a spectacular EA-18G Growler display at Riverfire 2018. CPL Kylie Gibson

Meet the RAAF pilots who will light up Brisbane

ONE of the pilots who will be zooming above the Brisbane CBD at this weekend's Sunsuper Riverfire has a message for you all - wave and he will wave back.

Royal Australian Air Force pilot Squadron Leader Shannon "Bird" Kennedy and electronic warfare officer Flight Lieutenant Mat "Smurf" Murphy will fly their EA-18G Growlers down the Brisbane River and over the city at speeds of about 700km/h.

Sqn Ldr Kennedy's and Flt-Lt Murphy's first display is at 5.30pm. They will be joined by a second Growler for a flypast before the fireworks start at 7.04pm, which concludes the month-long Brisbane Festival.

This will be the first time Sqn Ldr Kennedy has flown in the Sunsuper Riverfire entertainment.

"I have been flying for 21 years in the Royal Australian Air Force. I have flown F-111s and the FA/18F Super Hornet, and now I am on the EA-18G Growler," he said.

"I am always excited to show the jet to the public.

"It's not something that people see a lot. People around Ipswich see us as we do our training. To take the jet to half a million people down by the Brisbane River will be an awesome experience."

Hours of practice and preparation has gone into ensuring both pilots are familiar with their route on Saturday.

"There is a lot of preparation involved. We practice in a simulator before we fly the route for real," Sqn Ldr Kennedy said.

"We will be doing a practice fly over the city on Friday at 1pm; we do that for two reasons.

"One, it shows the jets off to all the workers in the city, so everyone can go out and have a look.

"Second, and most importantly, we get to practice the flight profile prior to Saturday's twilight display."

They will take off from RAAF Base Amberley and will be in Brisbane City in only minutes.

"It will take me roughly four minutes to get from Amberley to the CBD," Sqn Ldr Kennedy said.

"I will be setting up my timing and making sure I enter the CBD at the correct time.

"When I take off, air traffic control will give me clearance to fly straight to Brisbane.

"For 5.30pm, I will enter the Brisbane River at Toowong and then I will do some repositioning manoeuvres as I fly down past South Bank. I will fly past South Bank three times and up past the Story Bridge twice.

"This is going to be extremely exciting as it's something we don't get to do every day."

"I want people on the ground to wave to us.

"They should also keep a very close eye out for a wing wave, as that will be us waving back."

Timings for the aircraft fly-pasts and aerobatic display on Saturday are scheduled as follows:

  • 2.45pm - C 17A Globemaster flypast
  • 4.15 pm - Roulettes Aerobatic Display
  • 5.30 pm - EA-18G Growler flypast
  • 7.04 pm - EA-18G Growler flypast
  • 7.05 pm- Sunsuper Riverfire fireworks display commences


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