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Macchi Memories (6 October 2015)
contributed by GerryRyder
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The Macchi jet trainer image in my series of pics taken in WA's Aviation Heritage Museum brings to mind a couple of experiences I've had while fishing close offshore in waters near Mandurah and in Warnbro Sound, south of Perth.
RAAF jets and now Pilatus turbo prop trainers did and do regularly fly low over the sea in the vicinity. They don't seem hog-tied by the same rules that non-service pilots are, although they always fly at altitude over land near the towns and cities within range of their base at Pearce/Bullsbrook, north of the Big Smoke.
I was fishing with a mate out of Mandurah some years ago, when I happened to look astern and realized a Macchi jet was coming at us at very low level. Whether the flier was using us as a practice target point or just set out to give us a shock I'll never know. I couldn't hear the jet clearly, it was moving so fast, but some noise must have twigged my senses. I just had time to yell at my mate to block his ears when the Macchi screamed over and away. I shudder to think what the jet would have wreaked on our hearing if we hadn't done that. Fortunately, I love aircraft and didn't attempt to get the flier into trouble. There was a perverse enjoyment in it... for both the pilot and myself.
On another occasion in Warnbro Sound, a Pilatus pilot did dive on my small boat - and me - as a floating target point and levelled out at around 30 mtrs or so altitude. I could clearly see the pilot looking at me as he peeled off a little and roared past, gave him a wave and got a wing-waggle in answer. I do love having these guys do their thing in the name of our nation's defense, but I'm glad it's turbo Pilatus aircraft and not screaming jets these days! Having said that, 'other nations' are training with jets from Pearce regularly, so I suppose it could happen again.
My hearing's pretty good for an old boy. I'd like it to stay that way. I guess I'm over being buzzed by passing jets!
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