RAAF Air Commander gets a taste of Navy aviation

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), ABIS Jesse Rhynard (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Albatross, 723 Squadron, 816 Squadron

(Front centre) Air Commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Melvin Hupfeld DSC with members of 816 Squadron and one of the Squadron's Seahawk Helicopters. (photo: ABIS Jesse Rhynard)
(Front centre) Air Commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Melvin Hupfeld DSC with members of 816 Squadron and one of the Squadron's Seahawk Helicopters.

Visits to 816 and 723 Squadrons, a flight in a Squirrel helicopter, simulator experience in flying a Seahawk and an anti-submarine warfare demonstration were all part of the busy itinerary that Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Vince Di Pietro, recently put together for Air Vice Marshal Mel Hupfeld.

Commodore Di Pietro invited the RAAF Air Commander Australia to visit HMAS Albatross for an overview of the capabilities of Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and rotary wing aircraft operations.

While he was on the Navy base, Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld also took full advantage of the opportunity to engage with Royal Australian Navy maintainers and pilots wherever he went, taking a keen interest in their training and work.

Lieutenant Cliff Gaudie of 723 Squadron was the pilot for Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld’s flight and took him on a local area sortie, demonstrating the profiles flown by all junior pilots when learning on the Squirrel.

Air Commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Melvin Hupfeld DSC speaks with Lieutenant Cliff Gaudie before going on a familiarisation flight in a Squirrel helicopter at HMAS Albatross.

Air Commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Melvin Hupfeld DSC speaks with Lieutenant Cliff Gaudie before going on a familiarisation flight in a Squirrel helicopter at HMAS Albatross.

Lieutenant Gaudie said Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld was a very enthusiastic passenger.

“He loved it! He had flown the UH-1H (Huey) many years ago, so a lot of his questions stemmed from the difference between the Huey and the Squirrel.

“I was also able to give him significant hovering and normal flying profiles and show him some of the handling characteristics, more specifically the engine-off landing profiles as well as some emergency handling sequences.”

Commander Marc Pavillard, who escorted Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld on his tour of 816 Squadron, said the Seahawk simulator flight gave the senior Air Force officer a very good appreciation of the challenges involved in the embarked tactical environment.

“After flying the Seahawk to the back of a moving ship in the Simulator, Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld said that flying a Hornet Jet was much easier,” Commander Pavillard said.

Day 2 of Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld’s visit provided him with the opportunity to visit RAAF personnel at 453 Squadron, which is based in the Albatross Aircraft Control Tower. Commanding Officer of Albatross, Captain Simon Bateman said this presented a valuable opportunity.

“From my perspective, I think it is always good for a senior Air Force officer to visit the Navy’s only operational airfield. Not only does it allow them to view and participate in naval aviation, but they also get the chance to speak to the Air Force members on the base, specifically the RAAF Air Traffic Controllers.”

L-R: Air Commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Melvin Hupfeld DSC toured the Aircraft Control Tower at HMAS Albatross with Commanding Officer HMAS Albatross, Captain Simon Bateman and Squadron Leader Michael Evans.

L-R: Air Commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Melvin Hupfeld DSC toured the Aircraft Control Tower at HMAS Albatross with Commanding Officer HMAS Albatross, Captain Simon Bateman and Squadron Leader Michael Evans.

Squadron Leader Michael Evans agreed, describing Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld’s visit as “a rare privilege.”

“As the only RAAF unit on HMAS Albatross, we’re a mixed workforce of Joint Battlefield Airspace Controllers (JBAC) and APS controllers and maintenance staff, but we all relished the opportunity to demonstrate the capability we provide to Navy as well as to discuss current issues,” he said.

“Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld was very interested in all viewpoints and engaged openly with staff, learning about the Air Base Air Traffic Services (ABATS) and airfield support provided by 453SQN.

“He was particularly interested in the impact of the introduction of MH-60R and the Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) on airfield and airspace operations, as well as planned initiatives to enhance ABATS delivery,” Squadron Leader Evans said.

Commodore Di Pietro said Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld’s visit was very successful.

“I believe we displayed our wares for Air Vice Marshall Hupfeld professionally and with élan, and I know he thoroughly enjoyed his day and a half with us and learned much from the visit and his interaction with FAA and its ATC team members,” Commodore Di Pietro said.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141468.