Cherry Gardens Air Operations Support


For the best part of the last 20 or so years, Air Operations Support has been carried out by a small band of CFS volunteers at the Cherry Gardens Airbase in Thorley Road (a continuation of Frith Road). This will come as no surprise to anyone who live close by, however it may interest some people to know that our airbase is one of only two Class A airbases in South Australia, both which are servicing water bombing operations in the Mt. Lofty Ranges zone. We operate independent to the local Cherry Gardens CFS Brigade although all our volunteers are registered with the brigade.


The nature of air operations allows for a very fast response to the outbreak of a fire, the aim being to keep it as small as possible until firefighters arrive. This can mean the difference between a 3 hour incident and a 3 day campaign and its associated losses. It should always be remembered that firefighters put out fires, air operations provides support for that effort. So effective has this support been, that this season we will see a considerable expansion in air operations resources throughout the state.

So what does that mean for us here in Cherry Gardens?

Well any fire in the Mt. Lofty ranges may now see 4 water bombers and 2 helicopters responded immediately, meaning you could be buzzed by a number of red and white aeroplanes……yes they are not yellow any more, it’s their new livery. We all hope that won’t be necessary and of course we hear each year that this fire season is going to be the worst and when it’s not, we can become complacent. You only have to look at what’s happening in California …… we’re on the same planet, it can happen here!

Each year we have training days around this time. Our next training day for Airbase Operators is on Sunday December 9th at 9.00am till 12noon. We have been busy recruiting and have 4 new people from the local area, so we are very pleased to welcome Glen, Scott, Emmanuelle and Andrew to the team. We have also managed to bring on 4 more people from neighbouring areas whom we warmly welcome too.

We invite residents from the local area to observe live air operations on our upcoming training day. Once on Thorley road (it becomes a gravel road so drive with care), the gate into the airbase is approximately 300 metres on the left. Drive through the gate and turn hard right and park along the fence line. There will be an exclusion zone marked with red and white tape. Please stay behind the tape at all times. You will see water bomber aircraft landing and getting loaded before taking off and demonstration drops at close range.

We also welcome enquiries from anyone who may wish to join, particularly if you live in the local area and are usually home during the day. See you there.

If you have any enquiries please contact me on 0407388844
Graeme Vickerman
Air Base Manager