Saturday, July 20, 2013

Military Exercise Talisman Saber 2013: Mass Paratrooper Drop over Shoalwater Bay But Fog at Rockhampton Airport Means no USAF C-17s Land at Rockhampton Airport

Early on Saturday 20 July, five United States Air Force (USAF) Boeing C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft dropped around 400 paratroopers into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) as a part of Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.

It was expected that the five C-17s - which flew direct from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska and refuelled over Hawaii - were then to land at Rockhampton Airport briefly.  However, local plane spotters awoke on Saturday morning to find a thick blanket of fog covering the Airport.  Visability was reportedly as low as 200 metres at one stage, also delaying the mornings commercial arrivals and departures.

The five USAF C-17s that were involved in the paratrooper drop were seen to be flying into Amberley RAAF Air Base in South-East Queensland.  From online radar websites, the five aircraft involved were:
08-8202 as "Reach 401"; 00-0185 as "Reach 402"; 09-9207 as "Reach 403"; 08-8190 as "Reach 404"; and 05-5146 as "Reach 405".

USAFF C-17s at Rockhampton Airport during Talisman Sabre 2011  (File photo)

Rumours now abound about the possible visit of some or all of these C-17s to Rockhampton Airport in coming days.

Meanwhile, an American soldier is in hospital after sustaining injuries in the mass paratrooper jump this morning.  Of the 400 who jumped, only two hard landings required medical treatment. One of those soldiers remains at Shoalwater Bay while the other was believed to have been transported to Rockhampton. 

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