Two fighter pilots rigging up during a scramble, Diego Garcia

Unit Royal Australian Air Force
Place Oceans: Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia
Accession Number ART91751
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 429 mm (H) x 378 mm (L) x 37 mm (D)
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on hardboard
Maker Churcher, Peter
Place made Indian Ocean, Indian Ocean: Diego Garcia, Indian Ocean: Diego Garcia
Date made 8 March 2002
Conflict Period 2000-2009
Afghanistan, 2001-
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Figures of two pilots preparing for a scramble. The RAAF pilots have been identified as Flight Lieutenant Tom Gleeson (on the left) and Flying Officer James Atkinson (on the right).

Peter Churcher recalled, "This work depicts the essential activity that the pilots are involved with on the Island i.e. the 'scramble', which is the response to a warning call and the subsequent preparation for aerial defence of the Island, involving immediate boarding of the aircraft and take off within fifteen minutes. The drawing of "Akko" should go together. The drawing shows what they do for seven hours a day and the painting shows what they do for five minutes (to get dressed) and fifteen minutes to get in the air. 'Alert 15': answer the phone, get dressed, get into the car, driven to aircraft 100m on the tarmac, inside the plane and the mechanics and crew have to go out with them, start her up and up in the air. I witnessed a test one".

Peter Churcher was appointed official artist in January 2002 to record Australia's involvement in the International Coalition against Terrorism. He travelled to the Middle East and spent three weeks with the RAN on board HMAS Kanimbla and Adelaide in the Persian Gulf. Leaving the Middle East, Churcher spent time on Diego Garcia, a US military base in the Indian Ocean with the RAAF. In September 2002 he completed his commission in Afghanistan, recording the activities of the SAS at Bagram.