Steve Low AM Wing Commander (ret).
Steve wrote some background for us so I will use his words to introduce him.
Aged 19 years, our pilots course at RAAF Pearce would do all our training on the newly acquired Macchi jet.
It was very exciting strapping into the front seat on my first flight in full flight gear (G suit, helmet, oxy mask and life jacket). It was great fun for a kid almost straight out of school.
The flying course was demanding and went at a pace that kept you studying and learning to put theory into practice. We had excellent instructors and I loved playing pranks on them.
I wanted to fly fighters and in November 1969 when we arrived at RAAF Williamtown the thunderous sound of Mirages in full afterburner on take off hurt your ears. What a blast to be strapped into such a beast that went so damned fast and had so much power!
Flying formation was amazing as you looked across at a beautiful sleek machine as it raced along whatever you were doing and felt solid and steady in the air. I was in heaven and it was hard to believe you were getting paid for doing it.
Eventually after I became experienced, I joined a 77 Sqn four ship aerobatic team and I flew the slot.
In April 1972, I was posted to 75 Squadron Butterworth and spent two years there. The Communist insurgency was still active in parts of the country. One night a sub machine gun was fired at insurgents near the main gate across from our quarters.
I was pleased to leave the place and was posted to Melbourne as Aide De Camp to the Governor of Victoria for two most interesting years in which we toured Victoria and met many visiting heads of state and members of the Royal family etc. It is the most impressive residence in Australia and I was treated like a Prince.
I was promoted to Sqn Ldr in January 1981 and was posted back to 77Sqn which put me in charge of the photo recon flying. One of my pilots had to eject when the undercarriage would not lock down.
For the RAAF Diamond Jubilee Air Show I was given the task of leading a two ship aerobatic team.
We flew out of RAAF Richmond for the Schofields Air Show and the public saw the red white and blue colour scheme for the first time.
The RAAF Diamond Jubilee Air Show was at Amberley on 5th April. We began the display with an opposed take off and hugged the airfield with gear down for an opposed garbage roll before synchronised aeros began. In some manouvres we passed each other at over 1000 kts closing speed.
At the end of that year I was posted to Directorate Air Force Safety and spent three months at USC Norton AFB Campus doing the USAF Flight Safety Officers Course. I investigated three mid air collisions, two of which involved the deaths of each pilot, and I knew them.
For my efforts in this posting I was awarded a AM.
My final posting was CO 77 Squadron on Hornets but I left the RAAF after 20 year’s service. It was a very satisfying and enjoyable career but it was time for me to move on. The people I flew and worked with made it very special and I can certainly state that I have lived a very fortunate life.
Life after RAAF Service.
in 1988 I began a new chapter of my life as a beef cattle grazier.
By 1999, Dungog Shire our local Council had become very unpopular with ratepayers demanding significant change. This prompted me to seek election. I felt compelled to participate and give something back to the community for all the wonderful things I had achieved in my life.
I had seven years as Mayor and two as Deputy; at State level I was Senior Vice President of the Shires Association, and served on two Ministerial Advisory Councils, the NSW Roads and Transport Directorate and numerous other committees.
After dedicating so much time and effort in local government I felt that I should get back on top of my own affairs. So I did not stand for re-election in 2008.
I watched with disdain as the Council gradually lost its way again and was very disappointed. I went back onto Council in 2017 and so we come to the present where I still enjoy helping people through the maze of ever increasing bureaucracy that has become such an essential part of life in Australia and NSW in particular.
I left the RAAF over 32 years ago and I am a member of the fighter branch of the RAAF Association. I have visited RAAF Williamtown many times with young people interested in a flying career and of course Fighter World with family and visitors. One can never lose the effects on your persona of having been a fighter pilot, and nor would I want to.