It is believed that during the previous couple of days, rotor blades were re-attached and test flights were conducted in preparation for them to position to Townsville where it is believed they will complete pre-exercise training with Australian and other US military assets.
On Friday 30 June, all 13 choppers departed to the Gladstone Port for Townsville in two flights.
The first flight departed mid-morning and consisted of four Boeing AH-64 Apache and two Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. They flew from Gladstone to overhead Rockhampton before they continued and landed at Mackay Airport. The flight of six choppers were heard to use the radio callsign of "Pegasus".
Around an hour later, the second flight departed and consisted of the seven remaining Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. They flew in a spectacular formation direct to Rockhampton where they landed for and refuelled at Rockhampton Airport.
The seven Blackhawks were heard to use radio callsign of "Stampede" and landed in two groups - of four then three.
All seven Blackhawks then departed Rocky in formation and also headed for Mackay Airport where they landed and joined the first flight of six choppers on the ground on the Western General Aviation Apron - what sure would have been a spectacular sight of all 13 choppers back on the ground at once!
All 13 US Army helicopters then departed and continued to Townsville. Local photographer Ian H captured some of the choppers arriving into North Queensland.
I believe the four Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters are of the Air Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (2nd Squadron) of the 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade, stationed at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii.
I believe the nine Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopters are UH-60s of the 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade - 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment "Diamond Head" and HH-60Ms of the 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade - 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment "Hammerhead".
I hope you enjoyed reading this post!
My sincere thanks to all the local plane spotters and aviation and military enthusiasts - and the just plain curious! - who all contributed information, photos and videos of this great day for CQ Aviation!
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Photos and videos taken by Michael Fleetwood, Trevor Hardsman, Kayanne Hardsman, Kevin Patroni, Daniel Bishop and Ian Hitchcock ©