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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  ING Australian Grand Prix


Stone Brothers Racing
April 2, 2009

SBR’s drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Alex Davison were offered a once in a life time opportunity to experience flight in the front seat of a Black Hawk over the AGP weekend.

Alex and Shane met with the pilot and crew early Friday morning on the golf course located just outside the Albert Park Street Circuit to be briefed on the procedures and discuss what they would experience while airborne.

Shane and Alex each took their turn sitting in the front seat of the aircraft as it flew around the city and coastline before taking in a bird’s eye view of the race circuit, the whole trip taking approximately 20 minutes.

While in the air both Shane and Alex were offered the chance to fly the helicopter supervised by the most experienced Black Hawk Pilot in the Army.

Growing up in motorsport Shane feels more comfortable at high speed on ground level so he was apprehensive at first about taking part in the Black Hawk experience.

“Flying in the Black Hawk chopper was an amazing experience. To fly through Melbourne CBD and all the buildings was great, and to get the chance to actually have a fly of the machine myself was just unreal. I couldn’t believe how agile it was and how tight it could turn in the air!

I am not a fan of helicopters and was not that keen to start with but when I saw Alex get out with a big smile on his face I thought I’d better have a go and I’m glad I did.” Shane van Gisbergen

A fan of aviation, Alex was excited to get the opportunity to fly around the city he grew up in.

“Going up for a flight in a Black Hawk Helicopter was an awesome experience that I will not quickly forget. I am quite interested in aviation and would like to learn to fly one day so to see a pilot like Sam putting the Black Hawk through its paces was fantastic.

I couldn’t believe how maneuverable these big machines were and how steeply they can bank them into turns was very impressive. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to zig zag your way through the high rise buildings of a major city with one of the most experienced Australian Army Black Hawk pilots and to see how relaxed and comfortable he was had me feeling very safe.

We are very privileged that we get opportunities like this as part of what we do and I would just like to thank everyone from the Australian Army involved in making it happen.” Alex Davison

Black Hawk Statistics
• The Black Hawk is a battle field helicopter used to support land forces of the Army
• Can carry up to 8 troops or 18 troops in marching order (sitting on floor)
• Lifts regular loads of up to 4000 pounds
• The Black Hawk is 65 ft long
• Weighs approx 13000 pounds (when empty)
• Cruising speed approximately 230kms per hour
• Maximum speed approximately 350kms per hour
• 1700 shaft horsepower per engine

The names of Army personnel were changed in this story for confidentiality purposes.

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