A group of owners of Russian Yak and Chinese Nanchang military aircraft – known as the Red Radials – have been based in Cowra this week, undertaking advanced handling and tactical application activities.
It’s the second year the Red Radials have used Cowra Airport as one of its bases for its bi-annual meetings, arriving in town on Tuesday afternoon, holding its first formal briefing on Wednesday morning before finishing this Saturday afternoon.
Red Radial Sean Trestrail described Cowra as a “great” base.
“The town’s fantastic, it has great airspace for us, the hospitality is fantastic,” Mr Trestrail said.
“This will be our base from here on forth as long as we’re welcome. We bring a lot more noise to the area, we do try and minimise that, but I think it’s nice for the locals to see the activities.”
Made up of mostly ex-Air Force and ex-Navy personnel, the Red Radials conduct three waves each day, with briefings and debriefings before and after each flight.
Within each wave, up to six pairs fly.
The group operates like a military organisation, Mr Trestrail said, with its briefings and debriefings potentially “confronting” for most people.
“When we start briefing it’s dead set. Certainly debriefs, if someone from the outside was to come in it would be rather confronting,” he said.
“There’s no friends in a debrief. It’s bang this is how we do it, this is what we need to do, this is what you did wrong. That’s the way it is, as soon is it’s over we’re as we were before, it’s a learning thing.”
Along with advanced handling, close formation flying, the Red Radials conduct tactical formation activities that military uses for moving airplanes.
Tasks which the Red Radials take part in include flour bombing and streamer cutting.
Flour bombing involves the pilots dropping a small bag of flour on a target, while the streamer cutting involves a toilet roll being thrown out of an airplane, then calculating how many times it can be cut by a wing within 5000m and 3000m.
“It requires a lot of dynamic handling of the airplane,” Mr Trestrail said.
On Saturday, the pilots will engage in a tactical exercise involving a scenario in which they must plan formations, be at certain places at certain times and complete tasks.
The group has been together for roughly five years and the planes are their “pride and joy”, Mr Trestrail said.
“We spend a lot of money on them,” he said.
“There’s a lot of similarities between the airplanes.”
So which airplane’s the pick?
“The Nanchang’s are especially beautiful, particularly 'Madam Chang’,” Mr Trestrail said. The Red Radials finish up on Saturday.