Penny Tracking from Above
Gliding around the unit like she owns the place, Sgt “Penny” Peregrinus-Falco Alert is the only member of 1 Avn Regt who can genuinely claim she was “hatched to fly.”
The 15-year-old peregrine falcon, with her Top Gun attitude and love of mischief, lives in Darwin as the 1 Avn Regt mascot.
RSM 1 Avn Regt, WO1 Neil Edwards, said aside from her disdain for sunglasses and the Aviation Corps beret, the falcon was the perfect representative of the regiment.
“Peregrine falcons have fantastic eyesight, and they’re fast in the air,” WO1 Edwards said.
“Sgt Penny Alert embodies the capability 1 Avn Regt provides to Army.”
Peregrine falcons are the fastest animal on the planet, reaching speeds of up to 382km per hour.
Their eyesight is 11 times better than a human’s, with binocular vision registering on the ultra violet and infrared fringes of the colour spectrum.
Sgt Penny Alert has been known to use her talents to practice long and short range reconnaissance, even outside of unit-planned activities.
With the help of a radio tracking system fitted to her after an AWOL infringement early in her career, she took her handlers and regimental staff on a six-hour wild falcon chase all around the Robertson Barracks area in 2018.
Mascot handler, Sgt Paul Batty, said Sgt Penny Alert spent the day following and observing the search party as they drove around trying to find her.
“The tracker readings we were getting were spurious, so we trekked all around camp three or four times and ended up across the road from the barracks,” Sgt Batty said.
“As we were getting into the car after a few hours, about to stop searching for the day, we spotted her on a branch less than 10 metres away.”
The boisterous bird lives in a mews next to regimental headquarters, and spends her day overseeing regimental activities from different perches around the unit.
On special occasions Sgt Penny Alert performs representative duties such as attending Anzac Day services and commemorative parades, and making educational visits at nearby schools.