Training takes to the skies

Member News image Photos courtesy Commander Wayne Rigg, FRV


A two-week training exercise held at Hamilton Airport has ensured Victoria’s multi-agency aviation experts are ready to support firefighters on the ground and protect communities over the summer.


More than 50 members from CFA, DEWLP, FFMVic, Parks Victoria, FRV and SES took part in the annual air attack training exercise as part of preparations for the fire season. 

Trainers and assessors from various agencies took students through a combination of theory and learning opportunities with crews practising ground-to-air radio communications, loading aircraft and tactical approaches – all of which are vital to prevent the spread of bushfires.

Image of people undertaking training

In a first for Victorian aviation training courses, a simulated flight was used to support in-class theory, while a tactical decision games exercise challenged airborne firefighters with tactical situations such as limitations of time and information.

The flying took place over different terrain and fuel types with crews on the ground simulating real fire situations and communications with firebombing aircraft.

The training exercise culminated in a mock fire scenario, with ground crews setting up orange plastic sheeting and smoke machines to simulate a bushfire.  

Image of fire bombing plane dropping water

Image of fire bombing plane dropping water

Personnel were trained and reaccredited in roles including Air Attack Supervisors, Aircraft Officers, Air Observers and Airbase Managers.

In another first, CFA’s Kelly Krajnc and Rhianna Burns from Parks Victoria became the first women Air Attack Supervisors in Victoria’s history of air operations.

Image of two people loading bomber

Air Attack Supervisor lead trainer Commander Wayne Rigg said it was an important two weeks for personnel to gain new qualifications and for returning personnel to be reaccredited to ensure the state’s aviation capability was maintained.

“COVID-19 made training challenging, particularly in airborne roles,” Wayne said.

“Thanks to a tremendous team effort of multi-agency personnel we were able to come together and conduct training for Airbase Managers, Aircraft Officers, Air Observers and Air Attack Supervisors – all who play an important role in aircraft management and supervision.

“The course is only the beginning of the training for all air operations personnel as they will now build on the skill sets they have acquired and will be coached and mentored in the each of their roles.”

Image of CFA member talking to pilot

Commander Aviation Luke Patterson said the training was a huge multi-agency effort and a working example of working as one.

“It was fantastic to be able to utilise the great regional facilities that Hamilton airport has to offer, and we would like to thank the Southern Grampians Shire for their support,” Luke said.

“To be using the Leighton Wraith AFSM mixing and loading shed was also very satisfying for the aviation personnel who knew Leighton. Leighton passed away recently and his legacy lives on in this facility.

“I’m sure Leighton would be so pleased that the training was conducted from this facility for the first time in the history of the aviation training program.”

Image of shed and plane

The training exercise was coordinated by FFMVic under strict COVIDSafe protocols.



Submitted by CFA News