Former Rockhampton man flies Air Force's biggest aircraft

HIGH FLYER: Hailing from Rockhampton, Flying Officer Nic Barnes is now sitting in the cockpit of a KC-30A, that is the biggest aircraft in the Air Force fleet.
HIGH FLYER: Hailing from Rockhampton, Flying Officer Nic Barnes is now sitting in the cockpit of a KC-30A, that is the biggest aircraft in the Air Force fleet. CPL Mark Friend

SOARING above a seemingly endless stretch of the Pacific Ocean at 39,000ft is just another day in the office for Nic Barnes.

The former Rockhampton man is now flying high in a KC-30A, a multi-role tanker transport which is the biggest aircraft in the Air Force fleet.

A converted Airbus A380, the KC-30A can carry up to 270 passengers and cargo on missions up to 18 hours long around the globe.

Flying Officer Barnes piloted the aircraft home to Australia on July 16 after a task to Guam and Japan.

"Just in the last nine months or so this jet has taken me all over the world," he said.

"I've flown to the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Spain, the mainland United States a few times, and we're coming back from Japan now.

"Plus, we go all over Australia, flying domestically up and down the East Coast is a weekly occurrence for us."

The former Heights College student has been serving with the No 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane for the past 18 months.

Flying Officer Barnes trained on a CT-4 and PC-9 aircraft before stepping up to the KC-30A, and said it was the first twin-engine plane he'd flown.

"The KC-30A is 233 tonnes at maximum take-off weight, which is nearly one hundred times heavier than the PC-9," he said.

Flying Officer Barnes said there was a lot of preparation behind every international mission.

"We just need to make sure everything is squared away with flight planning, air routes, fuel figures, we have the diplomatic clearances to fly through other nation's airspace, and that we're carrying all the right publications such as airfield approach charts and maps," he said.

Topics:  aircraft air force pilot plane

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