Tigers at Gunn Point
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Gunn Point is a popular destination for pilots from MKT Airfield out for a recreational flight on the weekend. With the dry season upon us. It is also a popular place for weekend camping as the weather is cool and the clear skies mean that there is less of a likelihood of box jellyfish being in the water. Clearer days and cooler waters. However, do not deter the odd crocodile. So that’s how it was on Anzac Day when I headed to Gunn Point on a brief flight. Taking off and turning left over the crocodile farm.
I tracked north towards the Howard Springs coronavirus isolation village which is serving a useful purpose of quarantining returned residents from overseas and any interstate arrivals requiring isolation. Its original purpose was as a worker village for the very large Inpex project which saw the construction of a massive natural gas processing facility. Once the construction phase of the project completed and the village was no longer required It was handed over to the Northern Territory government with some consideration that it may become an aged care facility. That was before the horror of COVID-19 struck.
As I tracked north to the mouth of the Howard River I passed by another isolation facility, but this time it’s the Darwin prison. It’s distinctive razor wire fencing, and circular spoke style accommodation leaves us in no doubt as to what its purpose is.
The Howard River feeds into Shoal Bay, a popular fishing spot but also a location where the unfamiliar fishermen can become trapped on a changing tide due to the shallow nature of the bay.
Approaching the mouth of the Howard River I saw an unusual sight, but one which was familiar due to an event which had happened in the heart of Darwin a few days earlier. I was meeting with a colleague on the fifth floor of my office building in the centre of Darwin when the thunderous sound of three Tiger helicopters, one behind each other flew up one of the streets just outside our building. An incredibly impressive display of professional flying, but I was too slow to take a photograph or video with my phone.
Suddenly, as I approached the mouth of the Howard River at 500 feet those same three helicopters were at my 12 o’clock. They were tracking East; I was tracking north, and they were probably a kilometre in front of me. I continued north across Shoal Bay and then decided to turn east to try and get a photograph of the helicopters, which by now were some distance away over the mudflats east of Shoal Bay.
As you can see from the photographs. There was quite some distance between myself and the helicopters. However, suddenly I noticed that the helicopters were getting bigger. That’s when I decided it was my time to turn around and resume my flight along Gunn point. What happened next will stay as a cherished moment for me as an ultralight pilot. I was flying along the beach while at a safe distance out over the water. The three helicopters were flying in tandem keeping up with my rather slow speed of 50 knots. We flew in company for about half the length of Gunn point before the helicopters turned towards me flying behind me to track back to Darwin.
I am not sure what the camping folk along Gunn point made of this interesting spectacle, but you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face until long after I’d landed back at MKT airfield.
As these three impressive fighting machines transformed into three small dots on the horizon. It did give me a chance to reflect on the importance of the day; Anzac Day. Lest we forget.
View the album online at SmugMug or watch the slideshow.
Content used in blog and podcast:
- Last Post Courtesy of Bugle Calls – ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee
- Blog intro Licenced from Adobe Stock – Uplifting-Epic-Inspiration_AdobeStock_353755688
- Helicopter Sound Effect – https://www.soundjay.com/
- Photographs and video copyright Mark Christie