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Intrepid team touches down

Tuesday, 11th September, 2018

RFDS pilot Conrado Ciarliero, engineer Nick Mann and pilot Cameron Gibbs. PICTURE: Myles Burt RFDS pilot Conrado Ciarliero, engineer Nick Mann and pilot Cameron Gibbs. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has welcomed the first of its new Beechcraft Kingair 350 after a 12-day journey from the other side of the world.

The three-man crew took off from Wichita, USA for the flight through Canada, Iceland, England, Switzerland, Greece, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Singapore. 

It then stopped off in Broome before arriving at the local RFDS base on Sunday.

Even though this wasn’t the final stop for Deputy Head of Flight Operations, Cameron Gibbs, he said it was still great to touch down on home soil.

“It’s great to be back in Australia,” Mr Gibbs said.

Broken Hill RFDS engineer Nick Mann and pilot Conrads Ciarliero flew over to America to be trained and familiarised with the new plane. 

Mr Ciarliero clocked up many hours in the new Kingair to prepare himself for operational work around the South Eastern Sector. 

Mr Gibbs was on deck to show Mr Ciarliero how to fly the latest addition to the local fleet.

“He instructed me with the new aeroplane and I learnt a lot of new things,” Mr Ciarliero said.

“The aeroplane was just fantastic, I’m looking forward to flying it in the future.”

The trip overall went smoothly with only a few minor troubles along the way, according to Mr Gibbs.

“It was very challenging to deal with the different airspace and different ways that they do things,” he said.

“Sometimes the language barrier was a bit of a challenge, but we worked it out together. It was an awesome experience.”

Having hopped across continents, the crew all had their favourite places on the journey. 

“Switzerland was pretty awesome,” Mr Mann said. “The approach coming in with all the big mountains was good.

“I was very impressed when we landed in Iceland, which is so isolated from everything and so far away, Mr Ciarliero said.

“It was one of those moments in your life where you think, ‘well I never expected to do that.

“So it went well beyond my expectations.”

But Broome was the overall favourite as it was the first sign of Australian soil.

The new plane will be of great service to the RFDS South Eastern Sector with improved touch screen technology, advanced avionic, synthetic vision for ground awareness and other useful tools for pilots. 

Two more Kingair planes are set to follow in the coming months.

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