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Macchi Memories (6 October 2015)

contributed by GerryRyder
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Aviation Heritage Museum, Bull Creek WA Aero engine display

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.

Aviation Heritage Museum, Bull Creek WA Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Wirraway CA5 general purpose aircraft. This was the first aircraft type built in quantity in Australia. Based on the North American NA-16 Harvard/Texan.

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.

Aviation Heritage Museum, Bull Creek WA Macchi MB 326H jet trainer, served in RAAF 1967-2001 when it was replaced by the Pilatus PC9 turboprop aircraft. Sixty-seven Macchi trainers were built in Australia under license from Macchi Italy by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.

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.

Aviation Heritage Museum, Bull Creek WA Avro Lancaster Mk VII heavy bomber.  This aviation museum, one of Australia's best, with its teaming display of wonderful classic aircraft, power plants, models, replicas and glass-case artefacts will keep the enthusiast occupied for hours. One visit is never enough.

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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