F-111 Fini Flight
(with the permission of
Air Force Today, publishers of AIRPOWERint.com,
2 August 2001)
USAF and RAAF have a tradition where aircrew, on completion of their final flight
('fini-flight') in an aircraft type before posting away, are usually met on arrival and
hosed with water by their squadron comrades before being toasted with champagne.
Below is an editted short article which appeared in the Amberley newspaper "Air Force Today" of one such
'fini-flight' by a RAAF F-111 navigator (WSO).
No 6 Squadron will lose one of its favourite
members when FLTLT Dave Riddel leaves RAAF Base Amberley on Friday. Taking his final F-111
flight with the Commander of the Strike Reconnaissance Group (SRG) Air Commodore Dave
Dunlop last week, FLTLT Riddel is heading to the UK to the Royal Air Force College
Cranwell where he will divide his time between studying for his Masters Degree in
Science and instructing on navigational issues. First arriving at Amberley in December
1989, FLTLT Riddel has spent most of his time at the base between No 6 Squadron and 82
Wing, with a couple of years at No 1 Squadron as well. FLTLT Riddel said he was
disappointed to be leaving Amberley, but was looking forward to his new role in the UK.
"It will be good to develop and use my other skills in computing and technology.
Ill be teaching about leading edge navigation equipment which hasnt yet made
it to Australia", he said.
He said he wouldnt forget his time as a F-111 Instructor Navigator (F-111 IN) at
RAAF Base Amberley.
"There were great times, good experiences, a few frights getting a little too close
to the ground or another aeroplane when you didnt really intend to, and a tragedy
witnessing the loss of an F-111 and squadron mates", he said. FLTLT Riddel said some
of his best RAAF memories included his first flight in an F-111, carrying a live Harpoon
missile during Exercise RIMPAC in Hawaii, operational flying over East Timor, and time
spent as part of the Australian F-111G attachment to the United States Air Force's 428th
Fighter Squadron at Cannon AFB. He said a career crewing the F-111s in the Australian Air
Force had always been his ambition. "Ive always wanted to fly. I grew up in
Brisbane and used to watch the F-4s and later the F-111s flying over the school in the
70s, so I always wanted to fly in miltary jets."
At the end of his time at Amberley, FLTLT Riddel, an 'A CAT' F-111 IN, completed sixty odd
hours short of 2000 hours F-111 flying time, and said he would like to thank the aircraft
maintenance and engineering personnel for their often unrecognised efforts.