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Everything you need to know about the RAAF’s Riverfire flyover rehearsals

Arts & Entertainment, Living, Local News

Arguably one of the most thrilling displays at Riverfire each year is the one by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Locals and visitors alike watch in awe as the giant C-17A Globemasters appear to casually weave through Brisbane CBD buildings. Together with the FA-18F Super Hornet, the MRH-90 Taipan Battlefield mobility helicopters and the EC655 Eurocopter Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopters, it’s a spectacular aerial display!

However, long before the official event on Saturday, September 3, careful and deliberate planning takes place.

“Riverfire flypast planning requires detailed analysis of natural and constructed obstacles in and around the proposed flightpath including building, bridges and construction cranes,” an RAAF spokeswoman told the Brisbane Times earlier this year.

As the news website reports, this year’s Riverfire could well be the last opportunity you get to see the planes fly so low and come so close to awe spectators. A new pedestrian bridge from Kangaroo Point to the CBD will eventually mean those skilful pilots need to increase their altitude. Yet another alteration to this much-anticipated event.

Getting the aerial display right

To ensure the display is right on the night, the RAAF has released its schedule for rehearsals and flyovers in the days leading up to Riverfire by Australian Retirement Trust.

Before you are wowed by the FA-18F Super Hornet, which flies at up to 700 kilometres per hour a mere 80 metres (250ft) in the air, it will be going loud and fast through the city in a rehearsal set for Friday, September 2.

Four Army Aviation helicopters — two MRH-90 Taipan Battlefield mobility helicopters and two EC655 Eurocopter Tiger Armed Reconnaissance helicopters — will practice their performances on Thursday, September 1.

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Rehearsal schedule

  • Rehearsal 1 on Thursday, September 1: Army Aviation Helicopters at 12:50pm
  • Rehearsal 2 on Friday, September 2: FA-18F Super Hornet at 12pm

There are fireworks too!

Ensuring this year’s Brisbane Festival gets underway with a bang, the annual Riverfire — this year sponsored by Australian Retirement Trust — will ignite city skies on Saturday, September 3.

After years as the Festival’s finale event, the pyrotechnic extravaganza heralds the start of 23 days of wonder, delight and celebration.

More than 2 tonnes of pyrotechnics will fire from bridges, barges and city rooftops along the Brisbane River. If you’re unable to attend the event in-person, Channel 9 will broadcast it live and Triple M will simulcast its soundtrack.

This year you can expect more fireworks than ever before. This year there are 15 firing locations including five barges, eight city rooftops and two bridges.

Brisbane Riverfire

Key timings for this year’s Riverfire

Gates to the fenced area at South Bank will open at 9am on Saturday, September 3. Once this area reaches capacity, it will be closed.

Between 10am and 3pm you can enjoy the Australian Defence Force displays and Band at South Bank’s Flowstate.

The RAAF Base Amberley FA18-F flypast will occur at 5:20pm. The Army Aviation School Oakey helicopters dusk handling display takes place at 5:30pm.

The fireworks are set to light up the night sky from 7pm.

Crayola free preschool activities

Visit the Riverfire by Australian Retirement Trust website for more information.


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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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