‘Large piece’ falls from sky off Pitch Black aircraft
SEARCH crews have scoured thick bushland in Wishart looking for a 'large object' seen falling from the sky off a Pitch Black aircraft only hours after the exercise began.
Australian air force, Defence and NT Police and Emegency Services were out in force Monday afternoon searching for the fallen object in a closed-off area of bushland adjacent to Tiger Brennan Drive.
Witness Trey Branson said he was parked near the Puma service station on Wishart Rd when a large metal object that looked like a "fuel tank" fell nearby.
"We tried following it in my car," he said.
"Looks like it dropped very, very close to the Power and Water workers who were in their power yard sub station behind the servo.
"Could see from the service road some power and water workers all staring towards where it landed. Just missed them. Felt it hit the ground.
"The two workers that were in the cherrypicker in the air working must need to change their pants."
Don Dale detention centre worker John Mackay said he was watching some of the Pitch Black jets flying in for landing around midday when he saw "a large black rectangle object" fall from one of them.
"The whole time I was thinking: What the hell is that?" he said.
"It looked like it could have been a big blade or a rudder or something.
"It was spinning and whirling before it landed in the bush around Berrimah Rd.
"Last time something fell from a plane, it happened out that way too. It's a bit of a worry."
Shayne Melbourne from Tutt Bryant Heavy Lift and Shift said a member of their staff was driving along Tivendale Rd when he saw the unknown object fall.
"He thought it might have been a bomb," he said.
"It looked pretty big, a few meters long."
Late Monday afternoon a Defence spokesperson confirmed the object had been an aircraft fuel tank that was jettisoned after a Pitch Black aircraft suffered an engine malfunction.
"Defence can confirm a jet aircraft involved in Exercise Pitch Black reported an engine malfunction and conducted an emergency jettison of its external fuel tank into scrubland south of Darwin," the spokesperson said.
"The fuel tank has been located south of RAAF Darwin.
"No damage occurred to the surrounding area.
"The aircraft and its pilot returned safely to RAAF Darwin. NT Emergency Services have been notified.
"The ADF and Northern Territory Police are currently at the site."