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RAAF Jets Ignite Closing Ceremony Excitement

The Royal Australian Air Force lit up Sydney tonight when two F-111 strike aircraft from RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland took part in the closing ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The first jet, crewed by 42-year-old pilot Wing Commander Dave Steele from Murwillumbah, and navigator 34-year-old Squadron Leader Geoff Harland from Adelaide, swooped low over Homebush Bay performing a spectacular 'dump and burn' to the delight of the crowd in the packed Olympic Stadium.

An hour later, a second jet, crewed by 30-year-old pilot Flight Lieutenant Andrew Buttsworth from Nambucca Heads, and navigated by 24-year-old Flying Officer Brad Machan from Cairns, soared over the Sydney Harbour Bridge trailing a 200 metre long flaming tail to signal the start of a massive fireworks display.

The popular 'dump and burn' sequence, performed exclusively by the Australian F-111s, occurs when jet fuel is dumped, or released, behind the aircraft and ignited by the massive twin engine afterburners.

Wing Commander Steele, Commanding Officer No. 6 Squadron, and pilot of the jet which was seen by billions of television viewers worldwide watching the Olympic Closing Ceremony, described it as an exhilarating experience.

"The adrenaline really started pumping when we saw the stadium lights on our approach run, " he said. "We came in at low power, then brought in the afterburners just before we went over the stadium which gives you a real kick as the extra power comes on.

"Then we activated the dump and fed fuel out the rear of the aircraft between the two jet exhausts where it ignited into the long trail. Actually you can't see the dump and burn trail from the cockpit, just the orange glow in the sky behind the aircraft."

The F-111 crew members were among thousands of people who contributed to the Sydney 2000 Olympics finale but without even touching the ground. The aircrew, all from No 6 Squadron at Amberley, completed their brief but spectacular appearance over the Games City and were back at their home base within hours.

CONTACTS: Richard Hogan, Defence Media Liaison, Canberra Ph 0419 621 753 Paul Lineham, Director DPACC-SQ, Brisbane Ph 0408 972 329

TECHNICAL DETAILS Aircraft: F-111G, operated by No 6 Squadron, RAAF Amberley. Engines: Two Pratt and Whitney TF-30 turbofans each developing 8165kg thrust or 12,400 hp Airframe: Length 23.0 metres, Height 5.3 metres Wingspan: 21.3 metres extended, 10.3 metres swept Weight: 22,725 kg basic, 51,846kg fully loaded Ceiling: Above 50,000 feet Speed: Supersonic at sea level up to Mach 2.5 (2500km/h) Crew: Pilot and Navigator

Specific details First flight over Olympic Stadium Crew: Wing Commander Dave Steele (pilot) 42 of Murwillumbah, New South Wales Squadron Leader Geoff Harland (navigator) 34 of Adelaide, South Australia Direction: North to South over centre line of stadium Altitude: 1000 feet (about 300 m) above stadium climbing during dump and burn to about 15,000 feet (5000 m)

Flight over Sydney Harbour Bridge Crew: Flight Andrew Buttsworth (pilot) 30 of Nambucca Heads Flying Officer Brad Machan (navigator) 24 from Cairns, Queensland Direction: West to East over Bridge Altitude: 1000 feet (about 300 m) above stadium climbing during dump and burn to about 15,000 feet (5000 m)

Issued by Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, Department of Defence Victoria Barracks, Petrie Terrace, Brisbane, Qld, 4000 Media releases are available by email if you register at the Media Centre at

© Scoop Media

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