The C-17 flypast was part of RiverFire, the finale of a three-week festival held annually in Brisbane, Australia, and was announced well ahead of time — but it still shocked viewers around the internet.
The Royal Australian Air Force often flies as part of the finale to the Brisbane Festival in Australia. But one of their greatest moments in their storied history was in 2018 when they set the internet on fire by piloting a C-17 just a few hundred feet above the ground of the large city, navigating between skyscrapers as excited onlookers shot footage with their smart phones.
The video starts slowly as the C-17 makes its approach. According to a statement from the RAAF, the plane flew about 330 feet above the ground at nearly 200 mph. This allowed lucky folks watching from nearby buildings to shoot photos and videos of the plane flying at eye level.
While the video may look harrowing, especially after the 1:00 mark, the plane was actually following a river for most of its route, and did have some wiggle room to shift a little left or right. And the plane conducted the flight twice, coming back around after the first pass.
The flypast wasn't without controversy, though. The Aviationist addressed peoples' concerns that it was a "9/11-like stunt," pointing out that the aerial displays are an annual tradition and that the C-17 flying wasn't even the most surprising show they've done there. And, what you don't see from watching the brief clip is that it was well-rehearsed, meaning viewers had a chance to get accustomed to the stunt.
For years, F-111 Aardvarks flew through the night sky just before the fireworks with a special nozzle fitted to spew jet fuel into the air near the engines, allowing afterburners to ignite it and creating a massive, flying fireball. The supersonic bomber put on quite the display.
The finale of the Brisbane Festival culminates in a great aerial display most years, but it pales in comparison to some other annual events. During summits like the Farnborough International Air Show, manufacturers send top crews and test pilots to show off the capabilities of their best aircraft to drum up additional sales.
The British Ministry of Defence is kind enough to tell the public ahead of time when planes will likely be flying though the famous Mach Loop, a low-level flying training area where planes rip through valleys a scant 250 feet off the ground. Photographers line the route to capture some awesome images.
Still, the C-17 at Brisbane was quite a show.
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