Doug Lyon looks up to the sky where he saw an F-111 fly over on Monday.
Doug Lyon looks up to the sky where he saw an F-111 fly over on Monday. Renee Pilcher

It's not a bird; its a low F-111

REPORTS of a low flying aircraft over the Scrubby Creek and The Palms area around noon on Monday have been confirmed by the Department of Defence.

Mailman Doug Lyon said he was delivering mail up Jimbour Road when the aircraft, which the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has confirmed was an F-111, flew over.

Mr Lyon remembers pulling up at a Jimbour Road home and feeling his car trembling.

He had thought there was something wrong with his car.

“All of a sudden, shwoom, it was over the top of me,” he said.

The F-111 was only about 300 feet in the air, he said.

“If it was going slower I could have made out the pop rivets in the fuselage.”

But the strike aircraft, heading towards Chatsworth from the Scrubby Creek area, was gone in a flash.

“It was loud alright, but wasn’t (breaking) the sound barrier, but it was fast, very fast.”

Mr Lyon said the plane wasn’t high enough to clear mountains in the distance and had to bear right towards the Chatsworth area. “If you see them they are usually way up in the air,” he said.

Scrubby Creek resident Angus Hutton said he was concerned the jet was flying too low – only 100 metres above the ground – and called the RAAF to voice his concerns.

A defence spokesperson said defence took all enquiries seriously and had responded to the complaint.

“An F-111 aircraft from RAAF Amberley was conducting standard low level training within the prescribed regulations and existing policy.

“The aircraft flew at a speed of approximately 500 knots and did not fly below 250 feet above ground level,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Hutton said there were rules preventing RAAF aircraft from flying below 1500 feet in the area after F-111 jet-engines scared livestock causing them to injure themselves and destroy fences 10 years ago.

Following that incident the Department of Defence had to pay compensation to the owners of the livestock that was injured.

But the defence spokesperson said there was currently no policy restricting low level flying in the particular area.

“However, Air Force is reviewing noise sensitive areas within this training area.

“The F-111 has provided excellent service to Australia for over 30 years and continues to perform a vital role in maintaining air power in the region.

“Training is essential in maintaining aircrew operational capability and integrity of our airspace.

“Air Force takes every possible measure to minimise the impact of aircraft activity on communities,” the spokesperson said.

However defence has confirmed the ageing fleet of F-111 strike aircraft will be retired from service later this year to make way for the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Mr Lyon said it wasn’t common to see the RAAF aircraft flying as low as 300 feet from the ground, however, they used to train pilots in low level flying in the Langshaw area.

He said not being able to hear the F-111 until it was right on top of him, was one of the jet’s trademarks.

Gympie Times


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