As they stood in the shape of the number 100 under grey skies and light drizzle, the assembled Air Force members’ spirits were not dampened – they were excited to make history on March 17.
Home to five military aircraft types and 6000 personnel, APS and contractors, RAAF Base Amberley – Australia’s largest – hosted the iconic centenary-framing photograph.
A spectrum of aviation and ground support capabilities surrounded personnel wearing their trade-specific uniforms, to represent the diversity of specialisations and musterings.
The Air Force 2021 team created the aircraft parking plan for all in-service aircraft and ground assets, including drawing to scale the aircraft and assets.
Royal Australian Air Force Super Hornet Weapons System Officer, Flight Lieutenant Zalie (left) and Pilot, Flying Officer Sophie, alongside a No. 1 Squadron F/A-18F Super Hornet at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. An all-female crew from No 1 Squadron based at RAAF Base Amberley flew an F/A-18F Super Hornet to mark International Womens Day on Monday March 8, 2021. International Womens Day (IWD) is celebrated annually in March. This year, Defence will align its celebrations for IWD with the 2021 United Nations Women Australia theme, Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. The tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future are recognised through this theme.
Air Command planner Flight Sergeant Tim Muehlberg said selecting the base to hold the centenary photo was the first step.
Main considerations were which had the most musterings, specialisations and aircraft.
“Amberley was the obvious choice for runway and apron size, and roughly 90 per cent of the jobs were already here,” Flight Sergeant Muehlberg said.
“Our planning was to alternate building the left and right flanks in case any aircraft were delayed, but there was very little variation.”
Air Force was also conducting concurrent planning for the centenary flypast in Canberra in March 31.
“While that’s dynamic and this is a static event, it’s still interesting how much work is involved in bringing so many assets together at one time,” Flight Sergeant Muehlberg said.
The Air Force memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra, is lit up in the traditional colours of the Royal Australian Air Force, light blue, red and dark blue, for the birthday week of the Centenary year. *** Local Caption *** In the lead up to the Centenary Commemorative Ceremony on ANZAC Parade, the Air Force Memorial was lit up in lights in honour of our Centenary year. The multi-denominational Centenary Commemorative Ceremony will represent an important opportunity to remember those who set the foundation for the Air Force, to recognise their achievement and innovation, and to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
He said land and tow timings were as critical as the layout.
“To get most of the aircraft positioned in one morning, it showed the teamwork between air crew and ground support. It was a stellar effort,” he said.
“All the units were excited to participate and have been fantastic to deal with; everyone had a ‘can do’ attitude.”
Being the “guy on the deck”, Air Force 2021 Senior Imagery Coordinator Warrant Officer Ian Gosper said he appreciated the support from 23 Squadron, Base Aviation Safety Officer, the ground support equipment and ground crews and everyone who brought assets, as well as the flexibility of the search and rescue crew and 464 Squadron photographic team.
“It was virtually all hands on deck – everyone was keen to make it happen,” WOFF Gosper said.
“Despite the drizzle, everyone kept their good humour and their eye on the prize.”
To his knowledge in 43 years as a RAAF photographer, Warrant Officer Gosper said a gathering of capability to this scale hadn’t been done in more than 50 years.
Head of Air Force Capability Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts AM, CSC (right) speaks with Professor Russell Boyce (left), Squadron Leader Joshua Fitzmaurice (center left), and the United States Space Force Lieutenant Colonel Tanya Hurwitz about the M2 CubeSat at the University of New South Wales Canberra. *** Local Caption *** Australias most complex CubeSat mission ever M2 will separate from an electron rocket in Earth lower orbit before splitting into two smaller CubeSats (M2-A and M2-B) which will orbit together in formation. Members of the Air and Space Capability Space Domain Team do final run-through before the M2 CubeSat launch in the UNSW Canberra Space lab. Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts with Squadron Leader Josh Fitzmaurice and Wing Commander Tanya Hurwitz and the UNSW team incl Prof Russell Boyce and Andrin Tomaschett in the lab and with the M2. The CubeSat was almost entirely designed and built in Australia in a collaboration between Air Force, UNSW Canberra Space, and a domestic supply chain of around 30 Australian companies.
“We’ve been on continuous joint operations for more than 20 years and quietly been doing our jobs and achieving outcomes, but to rack and stack every aircraft type in the inventory into one place at one time, and have the people represented, is quite unique,” he said.
“I wish the weather had been kinder to us, but even it gave us a nudge.”
Despite the rain, Warrant Officer Gosper was grateful to all the personnel standing on the tarmac forming the 100.
“It got a bit breezy out there while the imagery specialists were getting the shots from the chopper, but I think even the military working dog enjoyed it,” he said.
“Considering all that conspired against us, and how we overcame them all, it was a beautiful thing.”