Take your kids and spot fighter jets at RAAF Base Williamtown. If you have a budding Top Gun jnr. in the family then where better to take them to where our ace pilots train? See if you can spot the new F-35A joint strike fighters at Williamtown. They’re new additions to the RAAF base and replaced the F/A-18 Hornets.
Just twenty minutes-drive north of Newcastle, RAAF Base Williamtown is located near Newcastle Airport. The base itself is high-security and there is no public access but there is a section at the end of the runway on Medowie Road (just before the Fighter World museum) where you can park and, on the right day, catch all the fighter-jet action.
You’ll have the chance to see takeoffs and landings, touch-and-go’s as well as flyovers. And, in between times, commercial aircraft and helicopters come and go creating the perfect ‘plane spotting’ opportunity.
Spotting aircraft at RAAF Base Williamtown
While you’re there, you can make a list of the different types of aircraft. You can confirm what military plane you think you’ve seen on the RAAF website or for commercial flights, any of the carrier’s websites.
Visit Fighter World
If you have some time, you can stop by the nearby Fighter World museum. Established in the early 1980s, Fighterworld has an extensive display of military aircraft from model planes right through to a full-size F -111. Outside, they have an elevated viewing platform so you can take in all the action on the runway.
Stop for a Bite at Café Fighter World
You don’t need to pay for entry to the Café Fighter World. Based right beside the runway, the outdoor area allows you to watch the planes while you enjoy a coffee and a snack. The café is popular with base staff so, amongst all the uniforms, you may even get to see a Top Gun pilot or two.
Plan your trip
Obviously, you want to make the most of your trip and there are a couple of ways to do it.
You want to make sure training sessions are being conducted with pilots. The fighter planes don’t fly every day and very rarely on weekends. A quick of the RAAF’s Noise Map website will help with your planning. The site shows, in calendar format, when the planes will be flying and with daytime operations, if you arrive around mid-morning, there will usually be planes in-and-out intermittently until the afternoon.
For commercial arrivals and departures, you can keep an eye on the Newcastle Airport Flight Schedule website.
- McDonald’s: If you need a break, there’s a McDonald’s (with McCafe) nearby that has an outdoor playground.
- Service Stations: There are two large service stations close by (on either side of the Nelson Bay Road).
Things to remember:
- Binoculars: Take a pair and get an up-close view of the action.
- Earmuffs: Take a pair of earmuffs for any sensitive ears. The sound of the aircraft can be truly ear-splitting and even terrifying if you’re small and not sure where it’s coming from.
- Parking: The parking area is a gravel stretch than can be quite bumpy. Be careful when pulling on and off Medowie Road. Many trucks drive past, so you need to be cautious. Also, there may be children or adults distracted by aircraft and not aware of where cars may be at any given moment. Make sure you park OUTSIDE the yellow warning signs (see picture).
Anthony lives near Lake Macquarie and is a dad to four children. He has published two children’s picture books (Flaming Charli and Dancing Charli) and is currently working on his second novel. He has a teaching background and an MA in Writing.