Print Header

Exercise Blackbird 2010

No. 3 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force held its annual mountain flying exercise over the period 19–30 July 2010, at RNZAF Camp, Dip Flat.

Take-off: SGT Glen Blay performing a check of the Iroquois above the mountains near Dip Flat. (OH-10-0503-019).
SGT Glen Blay performing a check of the Iroquois above the mountains

Known as Exercise Blackbird 2010, the annual mountain flying exercise was ably supported by members of Expeditionary Support Squadron (ESS). The Exercise, designed to familiarise Iroquois crews with high altitude flying and cold weather operations, was also used as an opportunity to conduct night Search and Rescue (SAR) type continuation flying.

Fly Boy’s View

By FGOFF Michael Adair

Rotation 2 of two had just arrived at Dip Flat to begin No. 3 SQN’s annual mountain flying exercise.

This year, over 80 personnel from No. 3 SQN and ESS made the trip down to the balmy Wairau valley to achieve a variety of tasks involved with the extreme nature of mountain flying.

The Exercise required RNZAF Iroquois and Australian Army Blackhawk helicopters to approach high altitude ridges and pinnacles, while also exposing aircrew to some of the nuances of valley flying. The practical applications of this type of training are especially useful for SAR operations.

Flight Lieutenant Charles Nelson found Exercise Blackbird most enjoyable and rewarding. “I look forward to our time at Dip Flat as it always involves some excellent flying, and the camaraderie among the camp members is second to none,” he said.

The flying aspect of the Exercise had mixed success, with weather putting a hold to a number of sorties. However when flying resumed, the mountains offered a unique experience to passengers and challenging conditions for the aircrew. With a full programme of day flying and a series of night flights, people on the ground were kept pretty busy in the icy conditions.

Even though we were accommodated in a mix of tents and huts, the cold weather did little to chill our spirits. After two weeks in the mountains, the Exercise was concluded in fantastic fashion with a six ship formation flight back to Ohakea via Woodbourne.

The Exercise was considered a tremendous success by the Detachment Commander, Squadron Leader Oliver Bint.

Image Gallery - Issue 118