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Photos: RAAF Globemaster flies just 300 feet above Brisbane River

written by Hannah Dowling | September 27, 2021
RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)

Australian Aviation photographer Craig Murray captured these incredible shots of a RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing its planned flyover of the Brisbane CBD.

The display formed part of the Sunsuper Riverfire event, which wrapped up the Brisbane Festival on Saturday evening.

The aircraft flew “not below 300 feet” for its planned flypast of the Brisbane river during the event, according to the RAAF, which saw audiences watch the C-17 dip well below the skyscrapers of Brisbane’s CBD and traipse along the river.

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RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)

As planned, the Globemaster flew over Mt Coot-tha and Suncorp Stadium, then headed south along the river at South Bank to the Goodwill Bridge, before repositioning to fly east along the Kangaroo Point cliffs toward the Storey Bridge.

Along with the C-17 flypast, Riverfire attendees also enjoyed a display of Army ARH and MRH-90 helicopters, with this aerial display returning for the first time since 2017.

Onlookers at the 2021 event were also treated to an Army Aviation display of ARH and MRH-90 helicopters (Craig Murray)

Videos of the 2018 Riverfire Globemaster display went viral earlier this year, after they were posted to Reddit.

Viewers were fascinated – and some horrified – as the angle of the imagery made the mighty aircraft appear as if it were weaving in and out of the skyscrapers themselves, as opposed to simply tracking along the river.

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The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a four-engine heavy transport aircraft that can accommodate huge payloads and land on runways just one-kilometre long.

That flexibility comes from its design, which mixes both high-lift wings and controls requiring just three onboard (pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster).

Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a ramp system at the back, while its floor has rollers that flip from flat to handle wheeled vehicles or pallets. RAAF owns eight, all operated by No. 36 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley.

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III performing a flyover of Brisbane CBD and river (Craig Murray)
Onlookers at the 2021 event were also treated to an Army Aviation display of ARH and MRH-90 helicopters (Craig Murray)

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5 Comments

  • David

    says:

    The C17 doing this is criminal madness on a monumental level.
    One slight human error, one slight mechanical, hydraulic, even software issue would almost certainly result in an horrific catastrophe.
    It’s crazy that this is “approved”- and certainly isn’t approved by CASA (they have no jurisdiction).

    There have been lots of horrific airshow accidents all around the world over many years – and often flown by highly trained Air Force pilots. An accident here would make all of those pale into total obscurity.

    All they have to do to dramatically increase safety is fly just above the tallest buildings- nearly the same thrill value, but an immense enhancement to safety.

    • Hi David.
      I understand your concerns on fly pasts.
      But think of this.
      RAAF aircrew are same of the best pilots that received very high training to get where they are it.
      In the aerobatic display like that,they plan for everything that can happen good and bad.
      I would bet my money on the our defence force aircrew any time.
      They will doing any job right.

    • Vannus

      says:

      Wow David!

      You’re obviously unaware that these RAAF pilots’, who training is top-notch, are doing for the ‘Riverfire’ event what they do in ‘real life’, for a living.

      I’ve very confidence in their, & their aircraft’s ability to manoeuvre, especially as they fly above the Brisbane River’s flow direction.

      If you don’t live in that city, & not seen it from the many vantage points, then maybe you’re not aware of this.

      Previously there’s been a ‘dump & burn’ action when F-111’s were the Jet of choice.

  • Brian Beban

    says:

    Faith in systems and pilots David.

  • Steve Jokai

    says:

    Hi David,

    I can understand your concern….but….just because CASA is not involved, does not mean there is no control over what the aircraft is doing. To put your mind at ease consider the fact that the crew flying the C17 have possibly a hundred more restrictions placed upon what they do, under the RAAF flight rules for aero displays. Every possible emergency is considered before the event and is always practiced with all the likely problems to be encountered if something goes wrong. In the words of a very wise military pilot ” never put your aircraft anywhere your brain hasn’t been five minute before” Cheers

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