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Low Level Flying

Minimum flying heights are governed by Regulation 157 of the Civil Aviation Regulation 1988. This states that pilots must not fly over cities, towns or populous areas at a height lower than 1,000 feet, or over any other area lower than 500 feet, taken as height above the highest point in the terrain. However, exceptions do apply for search and rescue operation, police or military low level flying.

Low flying (below 500 feet or 150 metres) is an essential skill for military aircrew. Defence can deploy to potential trouble spots around the world, usually with little or no warning.

An AP-3C Orion conducts Air Sea Rescue Kit drop training in Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. Air Sea Rescue Kits contain life rafts and essential supplies for survival, but pilots must be able to drop them close to people in distress.

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 in sight of the ground or water. Low flying is also an essential skill when conducting search and rescue operations.

Whatever mission Defence undertakes, aircrew must be ready to respond anytime, anywhere fulfilling the task as effectively as possible, often without time for work-up training.