In addition to instructing on Gliders, James “Akko” Atkinson has a day-job instructing on F-18 Hornets. He organised a tour for the HVGC club members and their families to see the base and get up close to some of the real military hardware.
We had more than 30 club members and family members turn up for the day. Some unkind observers said that we would never get that many at Warkworth on one day.
Akko was a wonderful host for the day, making sure that everyone was looked after, organising the activities and answering a thousand questions. Not only does he know all of the technical details about the plane, but he also knows which details are classified “secret” so he can’t tell us. Once the questions started getting specific: “In this configuration, in a single seater, how far can you fly?” Then the answers became less precise.
The simulator sessions were probably the most fun. Everyone who wanted a go was able to get a good chance to try out anything they wanted. I buzzed Nobby’s beach at Mach 1. A few glider pilots tried to land the plane (Hint: don’t flare.) Even the wives had a go and enjoyed the simulator sessions. There are two simulators next to each other so that the RAAF can practice cooperative missions and dogfights. Some of the more bloodthirsty pilots tried to shoot down the other simulator. One succeeded - there will be a small Hornet “kill” symbol appearing on the side of a glider soon.