One of the country's most highly trained aerial killers has spoken out about the deadly behaviour in our skies.
Mac 'Serge' Tucker is a $50 million investment in our defence - flying one of the most deadly and sophisticated fighting machines ever built - the FA-18 Hornet.
Tucker has lifted the lid on what really our elite fighter force is really like - on the boozing, the pranks that went wrong, the near misses and the deaths.More stories from Today Tonight
"If you want a force to fight hard, you've got to let it play hard," Tucker said.
Tucker is one of a select band of warriors who have lived a dream - flying the FA-18 Hornet, a war machine with a deadly sting, missiles, bombs and the lethal Vulcan Gatling gun.
"When we first got the FA-18 we went through a bad patch, we lost quite a few guys early on," Tucker recalled. "There's a lot I wish didn't happen, but the ones that you feel nauseous about and go home and really think about, I probably had half a dozen of those."
According to Tucker, the average Australian house would be destroyed in just one second by an FA-18, so the men behind its controls must be equally deadly.
"It's very difficult to take little Johny out of kindergarten, who's been taught not to hurt Billy, and not to climb trees, and to break him down and rebuild him into a guy who's willing to jump on a hand grenade or take human life," he said.
Tucker was one of those boys - broken down and rebuilt into a fighter pilot.
Now he has released a warts and all book called Fighter Pilot, detailing the crazy lifestyle of our elite pilots, and the problems inside the air force, as it faces budget cuts and the invasion of political correctness.
- Allen & Unwin - www.allenandunwin.com
This reporter is on Twitter at @RichoTT7