Epic Maneuver or Reckless Stunt? Daredevil Military Pilots Nimbly Weave C-17 Globemaster Between Skyscrapers


Despite being an avid wildlife enthusiast, my 9-year-old son frequently insists he’d never go to Australia because it’s just “too crazy.” He’s thinking of all the venomous creatures, while my husband and I think of all the lockdown tyranny and far-reaching gun control.

I wonder what the little guy will think when he hears the kind of madness they pull off with cargo jets, though.

In truth, Australia seems like a fantastic place, full of lovely peoplem and I’d love to talk my son into visiting one day (post-COVID insanity, of course). But I think that the adjective “crazy” will probably always apply to the Land Down Under — they just do things a little differently there.

U.S. airmen recently told the military blog Task & Purpose that they’d never attempt the wild stunts pulled off by the Royal Australian Air Force in Brisbane, Australia, this month as part of the city’s annual Sunsuper Riverfire Festival.

Stateside, we think of aerial stunts being carried out by the Blue Angels high in the skies above America’s major metropolises.

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Apparently, the Royal Australian Air Force aims much higher. Or lower, rather. A jaw-dropping video circulating online shows the massive C-17 Globemaster III maneuvering around the skyscrapers of Brisbane like it’s nothing.

Of course, it is certainly something; and a rather dangerous something at that.

Check out the maneuvers captured on video last week (there’s a small bit of choice language from clearly impressed spectators):

 The stunt was a practice run for the grand finale of the three-week long festival which is quite famous for its aerial displays.

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“From an aviation point of view, the event is quite famous for the flypasts and aerial displays of RAAF aircraft, including the Australian F/A-18 Hornet and EA-18G Growler and the Roulettes Aerobatic team,” The Aviationist blog explained, adding that since 2017, the RAAF C-17A flyover has become “one of the highlights” of the festival.

“The C-17A provides the Australian Defence Force with a strategic airlift capability, able to carry large items of equipment and cargo over long distances and, as often happens with such ‘force multipliers,’ their support is, if not in overbooking, in very high demand,” the blog explained of the jet.

Its Brisbane maneuvers are not without its critics, though, and U.S. airmen say they’d be very unlikely to ever attempt such a feat, which some online commenters comparing it to 9/11.

“If the crew’s timing is off or if they are slow to react, the jet would collide with a building. Very risky,” a U.S. Air Force C-17 pilot told Task & Purpose (his name was withheld as he’s not authorized to talk to the media).

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The pilot explained that American C-17 pilots must stay 1,000 feet above structures in populated areas like Brisbane, and that there is a special approval process for flyovers like the one on display last week. Even then, they can’t go lower than the tops of nearby buildings.

“Those Brisbane videos are insane,” the pilot said. “We could never do something like that in the USAF. If we did, we would lose our wings immediately — never fly again.”

“American C-17 pilots do practice low-level flights in canyons at 300 feet above ground level, but canyons are not filled with people the way skyscrapers are,” the blog explained.

The pilot Task & Purpose spoke with, however, “could not help but acknowledge that the Australian stunt, as insane as it is, is also a little ‘bada**’ too.”

Although their Australian counterparts have gained a bit of a reputation for their risky stunts, American C-17 pilots have certainly had their fair share of pushing the limits.

In one recent example, as Task & Purpose noted, during the hectic and highly dangerous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, one U.S. C-17 crew that was airlifting refugees had to take off from a runway crammed with people, as we’ve seen in many of the well-circulated photographs of those chaotic final days of U.S. presence in the country, “with an unknown number of refugees (which turned out to be a record-breaking 823) crammed in the back and surrounded by a mountain range,” at that.

“Affectionately known as the ‘Moose’ the C-17 and its crews continued to evacuate people out of Afghanistan until the end of America’s involvement there on August 31, despite the risk of enemy fire and the growing wear and tear on the aircraft,” the blog explains.

“When I look back on why I chose the C-17 in pilot training, it’s this defining moment that comes once in a generation that makes the long stretches of being tired, of being stretched to the limits worth it,” a pilot told Task & Purpose at the time.

Whether it’s for breathtaking stunts across the Brisbane skyline or airlifting hundreds of desperate people from a violent and unstable country, we can certainly admire the impressive jet that we two powerful nations have at our disposal.

Even if the Aussies get a little too crazy with it from time to time.

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Isa is a homemaker, homeschooler, and writer who lives in the Ozarks with her husband and two children. After being raised with a progressive atheist worldview, she came to the Lord as a young woman and now has a heart to restore the classical Christian view of femininity.
Isa is a homemaker, homeschooler, and writer who lives in the Ozarks with her husband and two children. After being raised with a progressive atheist worldview, she came to the Lord as a young woman and now has a heart to restore the classical Christian view of femininity.