A Chance in a Million - Related by Pete Ring & Col Tomlinson

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

23 January 1979!  A momentous day would bring complete strangers together in strange circumstances.  As with all many momentous events, there was no inkling as to how the day would unfold.  The people involved were Ron Mitchell, Pete Ring and Col Tomlinson.  

A statement from Pete:   Having returned from leave, I was scheduled for a Check Ride in a Huey.   Ron Mitchell, the QFI checking me out was very experienced, a bloody good pilot and a nice all-round bloke.  I was anticipating enjoying the check ride.

A statement from Col, an  A4 Skyhawk Pilot:    Next came the great opening shock of the chute. The ballistic spreader, now incorporated in the seat, threw the risers out instantaneously and I slowed from 260 KTS to zero in approximately half a second.

Col and Pete are being interviewed for the Podcast.  Below is some background for them.  You will hear more about Ron's role during the Podcast.

Col Tomlinson.   Col was a private pilot 1969 to 1974 and then joined the Fleet Air Arm, flying Macchi and A4G Skyhawks.  He became a Qualified Flying Instructor and Instrument Rating Examiner.   In 1979, he ejected from a Skyhawk and landed in rough country near Braidwood NSW.  Here he met Peter Ring.  In 1983, after the Fleet Air Arm disbanded its Fighters as a result of decommissioning its aircraft carrier, he joined the RAAF and trained on Mirage III however as his back was damaged during his ejection he discontinued and went on to flying Caribous. In 1986 he joined Qantas, flying Boeing 747 2/3/400 Series.  

Peter Ring  AM  AFC began his Air Force life as a fighter pilot, then Fighter Combat Instructor flying mainly F86 Sabres and Mirage III.  In the 1960’s he was deployed to Ubon, Thailand and Malaysian Confrontation.  Later, he was posted as Commanding Officer of 5 Sqn operating Huey’s for 4 years, including deployment to the United Nations Emergency Force in the Sinai Desert. Resigning in 1981 he became a sheep farmer. He branched out to provide privately funded Change Programs for Youth and Corporate Programs to Accelerate Business Performance.     The programs were conducted using an experiential approach developed by Peter that improved “feet on the ground” self leadership. Currently, Peter is Secretary of the Air Force Association NSW, a Board Member of Wings Magazine, and a Committee Member of Fighter Squadrons Branch, Air Force Association NSW.