In most cases, aircraft fly approved flight paths when transiting between airfields. These flight paths are publicised air routes that pilots normally navigate using ground-based navigation aids, GPS and sometimes even visual ground references. When approaching an airfield for landing the aircraft will need to diverge slightly from the route normally within 5nm of the airfield. Similarly on departure from an airfield, the aircraft will need to turn to intercept the air route. Air Traffic Control will positively control the flight path and heights of aircraft to avoid hazardous weather conditions and to provide a safe distance between other aircraft, obstructions and terrain and to adjust the landing sequence for arrivals at an airfield.
RAAF Base East Sale has two intersecting runways. The main runway is aligned approximately East/West with the second runway aligned approximately South West/North East. This runway is serviced by an Instrument Landing System used to guide pilots to a safe landing in poor weather.
Preferred runway use is determined primarily by wind direction as aircraft perform better by taking-off and landing into the prevailing wind. Air Traffic Controllers stipulate which runway is in use. When Air Traffic Control is not active, pilots determine the most suitable runway by examining the wind conditions from weather reports and also wind socks located at the airfield.
Flying at RAAF Base East Sale is minimised late at night or early in the morning and mostly the flying commences on weekdays after 9.00am. From time to time, pilots will need to fly at night and on weekends.
Residents should consider the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) maps, which provide the best information about aircraft noise exposure near Defence airfields. ANEF maps provide a forecast of noise for a future year, made by both civilian and military aircraft for that location. They do not show every flight and homeowners with properties outside of the ANEF map zones may still experience aircraft noise.
Circuit training, the act of repetitive take-offs, approaches and landings, known as a ‘touch and go’, is an essential stage of practical pilot training. It involves making approaches to the runway, touching down and then applying power to take-off again. Circuit training at RAAF Base East Sale is generally conducted during the day. Three to four times a year, Central Flying School conduct night flying training which include multiple touch and go landings for up to five aircraft at a time.
Some military aircraft normally perform an arrival procedure known as ‘initial and pitch’.
Low flying operations (below 500 feet or 150 metres) are performed by the Central Flying School for the maintenance of core pilot skills. Defence can deploy to potential trouble spots around the world, usually with little or no warning. Flying at low level is used to avoid detection by an adversary, avoid engagement by some types of weapons and fly underneath poor weather where it is important to keep sight of the ground or water.
At RAAF Base East Sale, low flying operations are only conducted within the confines of the RAAF Base East Sale low flying training area. The low flying area is situated approximately five miles to the south west of East Sale out to eighteen miles over pine plantations as depicted below.