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The F-111

The F-111 was truly awesome. It arrived unannounced and flew down the runway at high speed. One moment it was flying past totally silently, the next the sound hit you as it caught up with the speed of the aircraft. As the commentator said: by the time you hear it, its too late! You could tell the Aussie commentator really loved this aircraft (and who wouldn't), which he referred to as the "old girl". The F-111 is fairly old - it was designed in the 60s and retired from the USAF in 1996.

Standing next to the runway just a few 10s of meters away was fairly intense! You don't want to be there if you don't like lots of noise! I read that, in 2004 an RAAF F-111 involved in a training operation off the coast of Queensland hit supersonic speeds when it was too close to the coastline, which caused windows to shatter and large amounts of other damage to buildings in the area.


More Photos


To allow for operation at different speeds, the F-111 has variable sweep wings. The wings are actually pivoted where they join into the fuselage.

At low speed, low altitude, and at take-off and landing the wings are swept forward (see above). At high speed the wings are swept back to 72° as shown in this photo (left) making the aircraft look even more nasty. As the commentator said: she looks like she means business!



This shows the famous dump and burn routine, where the F-111 dumps fuel from a pipe near the tail and ignites it with the after-burners.

You can see how much heat is being generated by looking at the amount of super hot air forming a trail behind the F-111's flight path in this photo.



Here's a close-up of the flame as the F-111 flew over the runway. The flame must have extended 20 or 30 meters back from the aircraft, and really did look spectacular.


This is low speed pass over the runway with flaps extended, gear down, etc.

This display was done at low speed, but the F-111 is the fastest operational military aircraft in the world (most fighters have concentrated on maneuverability and stealth at the expense of speed) and is capable of Mach 2.5 (about 3,000 kilometers per hour) at high altitudes.



As the F-111 disappeared off to Christchurch airport, where it was based during the air show weekend, it did a final fuel burn.

Here's some interesting stats about the F-111 (hopefully I've got them right because this is just from memory)...

When cruising it uses enough fuel to empty a large car's fuel tank in 4 seconds.

Each engine has more power than the entire starting grid of a Formula 1 race, and it has two engines!

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