Sunday Territorian 18 May 2014
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
Nationwide News Pty. Limited
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
20 LIFESTYLE SUNDAY MAY 18 2014 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 At age 24, Tucker was awarded the Sir Richard Williams (Dick Bill) trophy for Fighter Pilot of the Year. This shot was taken at RAAF Base Tindal in 1994 Cruise control MAC Serge Tuckerloves the Territory.During his time in the Royal Australian Air Force as a pilot, he spent 12 years in two stints of six years here, based at Tindal. He said it was magical. I spent so much time there, its very close to me, he said. At Tindal his mentor was top pilot Wing Commander Ross Fox. He speaks highly of the popular Commanding Officer of No.75 Squadron who was killed in a midair collision of two F/A-18 Hornets 40km northwest of the base in 1990. It was a tragic day for the Territorys defence community. I still think about him a lot he was a bright light in my life, Tucker says. Since leaving the RAAF in 2000, Tucker has been working as a flying instructor with both general aviation and government pilots across the world. In his spare time which seems limited he has written a book full of stories and goings on about his time in the RAAF. About two-thirds of it is based in the Territory, he says. A DREAM REALISED FROM the day he turned 16, Tucker was determined to become a fighter jet pilot. He eventually would, and would lead a squadron, before training other Hornet pilots. Tucker says one of his favourite stories from the Territory was landing a hang-glider on the Stuart Highway. When we were at Tindal, I built this rig that we would attach to the back of cars, and take off down the runway to launch hang-gliders, he says. Once you launch, when you get to about 1200ft, you let go of the rope, and off you go looking for thermals. One day we went out and I caught what is called a boomer in hang-gliding terms, which took me up a long way straight up above the airfield. I got a little more than I bargained for I was up at about 12,000ft or maybe higher, maybe even 14,000ft. Thats really, really high in a hang-glider. Tucker says hang-gliders are not supposed to go higher than 10,000ft. Once you go higher than 10,000ft, youre supposed to have oxygen because the air is so thin, he says. But at that altitude, oxygen wasnt his only problem. The higher you go, the temperature drops two degrees for every 1000ft or so you climb, Tucker says. It was a cool day, and the temperature up there was well below 10 degrees Centigrade. I was only in shorts. I was a little more than chilly I was frozen. FLY LIKE AN EAGLE ONCE he lost some altitude, Tucker says he was lucky enough to catch up with a wedge-tailed eagle. I started heading north, By DAMIEN Damo McCARTNEY Pictures from FIGHTER PILOT by Mac Serge Tucker, published by Allen & Unwin. Forget the Hollywood version of life as a fighter jet pilot. Tom Cruise has nothing when it comes to this former Territory Top Gun, whose misadventures include an emergency landing on the Stuart Highway ... Guns kill the loafing MiG at 9000 feet HUD tape from exercise Churinga, Malaysia, in 1997. No.77 Squadron was the first Western air force to fight the MiG-29, which intelligence told them could not be beaten. Tuckers not sure the pilot of this jet had read the intelligence report