Ad Astra Aviator Podcasts.

An initiative by RAAFA NSW to capture the recollections and experiences of both retired and serving Air Force personnel.

Project Manager: Peter Ring. [email protected]

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Gareth McCray OAM
Gareth McCray OAM

Bronwyn Marchant - Public Affairs Office, Air Combat Group

Bronwyn Marchant - Public Affairs Office, Air Combat Group

Bronwyn gives a motivating account of being new to the Australian Air Force and being an Air Combat Group Public Affairs Officer.

Bronwyn grew up in the small town of Bungendore, NSW. then a largely agricultural community. She attended school/college in Canberra, ACT, graduating in 2011.

After graduating college, she attended the University of Canberra for two years studying Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance. At the time she was also employed as a finance officer for a not-for profit organisation. She then made the decision she did not want to pursue a career in finance. Subsequently, she joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 2018 as a Personnel Capability Officer (PCO).

Bronwyn completed her initial officer training at RAAF Base East Sale in 2018 and was posted to Central Flying School, RAAF Base East Sale. She then completed her initial employment training for PCO in Feb 2019 at RAAF School of Administration and Logistics Training at RAAF Base Wagga.

Bronwyn says one of my highlights during my posting at Central Flying School as the PCO, was when I was fortunate enough to attend the Edinburgh Air Show, Adelaide in November 2019 with the RAAF Roulette Aerobatic team.

In January 2021, Bronwyn was posted to 464 Squadron as the Air Combat Group Public Affairs Officer, based at RAAF Base Williamtown.



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Truckie Carr: High Points (and low) of My Flying Life.

John (Truckie) Carr

Born 1951

1967 Joined the RAAF and trained as an Armanent Fitter.  Served in 481 Sqn, 2 OCU, 75 Sqn Butterworth, and Kingswood.

1974 –             92 Pilots Course.

1976                RAAF Williamtown – completed 31 Mirage Course

1976                Posted Butterworth 3 Sqn including Photo Recce Pilot

1978                Posted Williamtown Mirage.

1980                4 Flight Winjeel Pilot – Forward Air Controller

1980/82          Fighter Combat Instructor Course, Instructor 2 Operational Conversion Unit.

1982                United States Navy Marine Exchange Posting  Hornet Instructor

1984/86          2 OCU F18 Instructor

1986/2013      Qantas.  747, 767, A330.  Check and Training Captain.

2013                Retired from Qantas


High Points (and low) of My Flying Life.

1800 hrs Mirage

1100 hrs F 18

Ejection from Mirage at Dutson Weapons Range (fragment Hi Drag Bomb)

First Hornet Qualified Instructor

USS Kittyhawk:  Carrier Take offs and Landings

Flew Search and rescue in Qantas to locate successfully 16 yr old Abigail Sunderland in Southern Indian Ocean

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Louise Burr. Australian Air Force Airfield (Civil) Engineer



Squadron Leader Louise Burr joined the Royal Australian Army in 1998 as an Australian Defence Force Academy cadet. After two years, she transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Engineer (Honours) in 2001.

Louise has served in a range of Combat Support Airfield Engineering (AFENG) roles,   Her other AFENG postings have included roles within Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems Project Office (CASG) and Airworthiness Coordination and Policy Agency.

Louise enjoyed a sabbatical in 2007-08 with the Canadian Armed Forces at Cold Lake Air Force Base in Northern Alberta.

During August – November 2018, SQNLDR Burr took Acting Wing Commander rank and commenced a Middle East deployment as Chief Engineer, Headquarters Joint Task Force on Operation ACCORDION.

SQNLDR Burr is now posted to Joint Strike Fighter Branch as the Facilities Project Manager, responsible for a $1.5 billion acquisition budget  The project includes new facilities for Numbers 3, 75 and 77 Squadron, 2 Operational Conversion Unit, and runway extensions and Aircraft Arrestor Systems.

Louise is married to Grant Burr, a fellow RAAF officer, and they have three school-aged children.  She has many interests such as travelling, baking, yoga, teaching the children to be good humans and managing renovations on their heritage home.

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Bob Redman CSC MID. Reflects on life in Vietnam, Flying Instruction and Test Pilot.

Wing Commander Bob Redman (AKA Rags) joined the RAAF in Aug 67.   On No 67 Pilots Course he flew Wingeels and Vampires.   He was awarded his wings in Dec 68 and was posted to 5 SQN Fairbairn ACT for conversion to Iroquois helicopters (UH-1B/D).

In early 1970 he served with 9 SQN in Vietnam until Apr 1971, including several weeks with the 45th Medevac Company US Army, flying UH-1H ‘Hueys’ from Long Binh.   He rejoined 5 SQN at Fairbairn in Jul 71 before rejoining 9 SQN Jan 72 on its move from Vietnam to Amberley QLD.   He was mentioned in dispatches for his service in Vietnam.

In Jan 73 he served with Air Movement Training and Development Unit Richmond NSW, developing helicopter external load rigging methods and training syllabuses.

In Dec 73 he joined the US Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Maryland USA flying a variety of fixed and rotary wing aircraft.   He worked as a test pilot in the US Naval Air Test Centre for four months before returning to Aircraft Research and Development Unit at Laverton Vic in Jun 1975.

He completed a flying instructors’ course May 77 on Macchi 326H aircraft at Central Flying School East Sale Vic, instructing at 2FTS Pearce WA until late 1979.   He was posted as Commanding Officer Transport Support Flight Butterworth Malaysia in Jan 1980, flying DC3, Caribou transport aircraft and UH-1H helicopters until mid 1982.

WGCDR Redman completed RAAF Command and Staff course in 1985, and the Joint Services Staff Course in 1989.   He served in a number of staff positions in Air Force HQ, Defence, RAAF Staff College, and the Pentagon (1986 – 89), before retiring at the end of 1991.

In retirement he and his family planned and built a home, and two warehouses for the family business.   Also he served on the RAAF Reserve part time working in the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre Williamtown NSW on joint course development and the Joint Theatre Level Simulation.

In Nov 96 he commenced full time reserve service in 81Wing HQ at RAAF Williamtown.   In Nov 98 he rejoined the RAAF in the same position, primarily to coordinate the transition from the Macchi to the then new Hawk 127.   He continued the same duties at the newly formed 78 Wing Williamtown from Jul 2000 until Jul 2002, including planning fast jet training and continued development of the Hawk 127.   He was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in Jul 2002 for his work at 78 and 81 Wings.

WGCDR Redman was posted to ADF BFTS Tamworth from Jul 2002 as a flying instructor on CT4B and CAP10B aircraft.   He retired from the RAAF on 30 Dec 04, and returned home to Belmont.

Rags married Shaun,in 1972.   They have four children, four grandchildren, and two MGs.   Rags, Shaun, family and friends built an RV-7 aircraft (VH-YMG) in the family garage.

Current interests are family, friends, keeping the vehicles on the road, and in the air, the RAAF Association, the 9 Squadron RAAF Association, and the Sports Aircraft Association of Australia


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Sir Roden Cutler, VC, AK, KCMG, KCVO, CBE Historic Interview with Gareth McCray OAM

Sir Roden Cutler, VC, AK, KCMG, KCVO, CBE was an Australian diplomat, the longest serving Governor of New South Wales and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth armed forces.

Arthur Roden Cutler was born on 24 May 1916. Arthur grew up in the Sydney Harbour suburb of Manly where he attended the Manly Village Public School.

At the age of 15 he was enrolled at Sydney Boys High School.

Throughout his life, he remained a keen supporter of the school, in particular the Cadet Unit of which he was honorary Colonel. He studied economics during the night at the University of Sydney, joining the Sydney University Regiment in 1936.

He enjoyed all sports, especially riding, rifle shooting and water polo, and was awarded a University Blue in swimming. As an 18 year-old lifesaver, he swam to the aid of a surfer who was being circled by a large shark. The shark brushed him twice as he helped the surfer to the beach.

On 10 November 1939, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the militia. In May 1940, he transferred from the citizen's militia to the Second Australian Imperial Force, receiving a commission in the 2/5th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, Australian 7th Division.

In 1941, he served with the 2/5th in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign. Between 19 June and 6 July, in the Merd – jay - oun-Damour area of Syria, and as part of the Battle of Merd – jay - oun, Lieutenant Cutler's exploits included:- repairing a telephone line under heavy fire, repulsing enemy tank attacks, setting up an outpost to bring fire to a road used by the enemy and, with a 25-pound field gun, demolishing a post threatening the Australian advance.

Later, during the Battle of Damour, he was seriously wounded and when rescued 26 hours later his leg had to be amputated. Cutler received the Victoria Cross for his actions in the Merdjayoun-Damour area and was medically discharged in 1942.

In the aftermath of a battle in Syria in the early stages of the Second World War, a young Australian lieutenant lay seriously wounded for 26 hours before it was possible to rescue him.

He was invalided home and was invested with the Victoria Cross, while standing on crutches, by the Governor General of Australia, Lord Gowrie, on 11 June 1942.

His Majesty King George the 6th was graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to the under-mentioned, Lieutenant Arthur Roden Cutler, Australian Military Forces. The citation, which is summarised, reads:

‘For conspicuous and sustained gallantry and for outstanding bravery during the bitter fighting at Merd – jay - oun supporting the infantry attack.

He established his OP ahead of the infantry and in the fighting that followed his Bren gunner was killed and Cutler and another man manned the Bren gun and an anti-tank rifle and fought back, driving the enemy infantry away. He had been ordered to establish his OP to register the only road by which enemy transport could enter the town.

An enemy attack was imminent and he was in danger of being cut off. Nevertheless, he registered his battery on the road and enemy posts. He was forced to go to ground but at night made his way back through enemy lines. On 23 June he was in charge of a 25 pounder sent forward to silence an anti-tank gun and post.

This he did and next morning Merdjayoun was captured. Later at Damour on 6 July when our infantry were pinned down by heavy fire, Lieutenant Cutler regardless of all danger went to bring a telephone line to his OP when he was seriously wounded. 26 hours elapsed before rescue necessitating amputation of his leg.

Throughout the campaign this officer’s courage was unparalleled and his work was a big factor in the capture of Merdjayoun’

Those painful and no doubt terrifying hours cost him his right leg, but he survived to collect the Victoria Cross for his conspicuous courage under fire and his inspiring leadership. Yet this was only the beginning of a long and illustrious career of service to others.

Australia, and indeed the world, was to know him as Sir Arthur Roden Cutler, VC, AK, KCMG, KCVO, CBE, prominent diplomat, patron and benefactor of numerous charities and community groups, and longest-serving Governor of New South Wales.

In 1946 Cutler was appointed Australian High Commissioner in New Zealand, and several other diplomatic postings followed, including appointment as Consul-General in New York.

In 1965 he took up the post of Ambassador to the Netherlands, but shortly afterwards was appointed Governor of New South Wales. A tall, handsome, dignified man, Cutler was a royalist, comfortable in a role not yet modernised; he remained a respected and popular governor until his retirement in 1981.

At a special meeting of the Senate held in the Great Hall of Sydney University, on 5 April 1967, the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) was conferred by the Chancellor, Sir Charles McDonald, upon this University Visitor, His Excellency Sir Arthur Roden Cutler, Governor of New South Wales.

That a man so distinguished and dedicated was accorded the honour of a State funeral, following his death in February 2002, will come as no surprise. Perhaps the only person who might have been taken aback was the man himself.

Many commentators have acknowledged the persistent humility of Sir Roden, a devoted husband and father who brought his special brand of courage to every role in his life.

The State Funeral and Service of Thanksgiving took place on 28 February 2002 at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney.

Crowds of people lined George Street behind hundreds of Australian soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, as the gun carriage bearing Sir Roden’s flag-draped coffin passed slowly by.

A muffled peal of the cathedral bells was rung before the service, conducted by The Most Reverend, Archbishop Harry Goodhew.

Tributes were delivered by New South Wales Premier Bob Carr and by Mr G E Priest, then President of the New South Wales branch of the RSL.

Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, then Governor of New South Wales, and the then Most Reverend Peter Jensen, read the lessons.

After the service, a salute volley was fired when the coffin and its military pallbearers reached George Street.

Sir Roden Cutler fulfilled the role of Governor of New South Wales from 1966 to 1981. An unpretentious boy from Manly became one of his generation’s greatest heroes and never stopped serving his community.

His motto on his coat of arms was ‘Undique Servire’ which translates as ‘Service in All Places’ and indeed he is remembered not only for his great bravery but his outstanding service and compassion to the community.

I have interviewed many famous people but it was indeed a great honour to have been able to interview Sir Roden in his home, shortly before he died.

The interview was aired on Radio 2SM and 2CH in Sydney on an ANZAC DAY.

Part of this interview is shared with you here.

Gareth McCray

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John Quaife AM Air Vice Marshal (ret) Talks about Our Australian Air Force

John Quaife graduated from No. 112 Pilots Course in September 1981. After an initial posting to the Strike Reconnaissance Group, and a brief tour flying Canberra aircraft, his operational career has focussed on fighter operations; Quaife's initial fighter training was conducted on Mirage IIIO aircraft.

In 1987, Quaife completed F/A-18 Hornet conversion training, and subsequently served with No. 2 Operational Conversion UnitNo 77. Squadron and No. 75 Squadron. He is a Fighter Combat Instructor with in excess of 2000 hours fighter experience and from 1996 to 1998, Quaife commanded No. 77 Squadron.[2]

Between 1992 and 1994, Quaife served as a fast jet specialist officer in the Force Development Directorate of the Australian Defence Headquarters, primarily in developing the proposal for the acquisition of Hawk aircraft for Lead-in Fighter training. In 1999, Air Vice Marshal Quaife returned to that headquarters as the Director of Aerospace Combat Development.

During 2001, Quaife directed the Air Combat Group project. In this role he directed a small team that planned the amalgamation of RAAF fast jet operations into a single Force Element Group. In January 2002, he was appointed to command the newly created Air Combat Group. During his tenure, Air Combat Group units deployed for Operations Slipper and Falconer.[3]

In January 2004, Quaife was appointed the RAAF's first permanent Joint Force Air Component Commander. In this appointment he was responsible for developing Air Operations Centre functionality within the Australian Theatre air component. Between December 2004 and April 2005, Air Vice Marshal Quaife served as the director of the United States Combined Air Operations Centre, where he was responsible for orchestrating coalition air power in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Johnn Quaife was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2004 Australia Day Honours.[4] He was promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal in June 2005, and appointed as Air Commander Australia. In August 2007, he accepted the appointment of Head of Capability Systems. He held this position until his retirement from the Air Force in 2008.[1]

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John Stephens - Building a Replica Sopwith Camel

Introducing John Stephens

Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM

John was in the Australian Air Force for 21 years.  He retired as a Flight Sergeant Radio Technician Air.  In the Air Force he worked on Matra missiles, Mirages and Macchis.  He had 2 postings to Butterworth Air Force Base in Malaysia.

After leaving the Air Force, he spent 5 years in Technical Offline Support for the FA18.  This was followed by 12 years with University Newcastle.

A very interesting part of his life is happening right now at Fighter World Museum where he is building a replica of a Sopwith Camel to be ready for the RAAF Centenary.   The Sopwith Camel, Great Britain’s most famous fighter of World War I, was also the most effective fighter deployed by any nation in the war. Camels were used to destroy about 1500 enemy planes – more than any other aircraft of WWI.

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The Adventures of Bob Treloar AO - Huey and Fast Jet Driver

Air Vice-Marshal RB (Bob) Treloar, AO (Ret’D)

Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM


Bob Treloar graduated as an RAAF Pilot in February 1968.


He then served in South Vietnam with No 9 Squadron 1969-70, flying Huey helicopters in support of the Australian Task Force including:

·      aeromedical evacuations,

·      dust-off extractions of wounded personnel;

·      insertion and extraction of SAS patrols;

·      combat assaults;

·      gunship operations,

·      people sniffers, and

·      psyops,  


He was mentioned-in-despatches for action in Vietnam.


He was posted to fighters including overseas postings to Butterworth, Malaysia with Nos 75 and 3 Squadrons flying Mirages. He commanded the RAAF’s first operational F/A-18 Squadron.  He subsequently commanded the Integrated Air Defence System at Butterworth Malaysia.


He was Commander Australian Theatre 1999-2001.


After retirement in 2001, he served on the ADF Airworthiness Board for 15 years.


He also served as a councillor with the Royal United Services Institute of New South Wales from 2002 until 2013, was President for three years, and remains a councillor emeritus of the Institute.


Bob joined the NSW Centenary of ANZAC Advisory Council on its formation in 2012, and within the Council chaired the History Committee responsible for the development a publishing of NSW and the Great War, a social and military history of New South Wales during the WW I period.


He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1988 and promoted to Officer of the Order in 2000. 

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Introducing Leading Aircraftman Michael Crapella serving at 2 Operational Conversion Unit, Williamtown as an Aircraft Technician

Introducing  Leading Aircraftman Michael Crapella

Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM

Michael joined the RAAF in APR 2016 as an aircraft technician and after training was posted in JUL 17 to 2OCU, where he still is today.   He has been trained on the F18 and the F35, participated in four pilot operational conversion courses and one fighter combat instructor course, which was partly carried out in both Townsville and Darwin giving him the opportunity to travel around Australia.


In 2019 He was able to go to Mildura for 2OCU’s anniversary and engage with the locals as well as military veterans and families.  


He has been away with ADF sport and participated in Clay Target Shooting at both a local ADF level in 2017, 18 and 19 (2020 was affected by COVID) and a national level.  H qualified to shoot in the ADF national team at the Australian national shoot. 


In the future, he wants to gain an Engineering degree and, in turn, be commissioned.  He would like a career in the RAAF as an engineer.


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Lesley Gent OAM - RAAF Family Energetic Wife

Introducing LESLEY GENT  OAM

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

Lesley whilst having never been in the Air Force is part of the Air Force “fabric”, as have been officers, airman and families since 1921.

Lesley believes conditions have improved enormously over the years for families of servicemen and women.  In the 70s/80s, she visited the airmen’s homes on numerous occasions,  and found it hard to believe the poor conditions.

Garry served 30 years in the RAAF and then they went farming!!   The Rural Fire Brigade was one of Lesley’s main interests and she spent many years on the Education Advisory Panel.  

She was talked into being Researcher/Secretary/Treasurer of 77 Squadron Association, and then Fighter Squadrons Branch.   During this time she worked solidly in support of veterans and their families.  She had close contact with 77 Squadron RAF and wrote a book for them “Killed in Service”.  

Lesley now provides all the research for Air Force Association NSW.  For example her current work is trying to locate the family of Flight Sergeant Kenneth Morrison killed whilst piloting  Halifax JD126 over Arum, Holland on 10 July 1943.

And so her Air Force associated life continues – just differently







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Wing Commander (ret) Matt Hall Fighter Pilot and Champion Red Bull Air Racer

Introducing Wing Commander (ret) Matt Hall. 

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

“Since he was old enough to notice planes, Matt Hall wanted to be a pilot. Flying with his dad in a glider, making models at home and meeting officers of the Air Force fuelled his ambition. So when he was accepted for RAAF pilot training, a dream come true.

From the rigours of his first job in aviation as an F/A-18 Hornet pilot, to combat over Iraq in the Battle of Baghdad to his post Air Force career as a professional air racer, Matt has survived near-fatal situations.

Graduated as a RAAF pilot in Jul 92

Posted to Fighters:   77 Sqn and 3 Sqn.

Completed FCI course and graduated Dux

Posted to instruct at No 2 Operational Conversion Unit

Posted to USA on F15E exchange duties, including combat operations in Iraq.

Posted back to 2 OCU for chief instructor for Fighter Combat Instructors Course

Then posted as 3 Sqn Executive Officer.

Retired in Jan 2009 to start racing and became the first Australian ever to compete in the Red Bull Air Race World Championships, the fastest motorsport series on the planet, and finished the season third overall to become the first rookie in history to end his debut season on the podium.   Matt has since won seven rounds of the race and finished runner-up in the world title standings three times.   Last year he trumped all of that when he became Australia’s first and only Red Bull Air Race World Champion.

While he is taking a break from racing, he has started a Corporate Aviation business, and an Aircraft Maintenance business, based out of his own airfield at Lake Macquarie.

He’s also the author of the biography The Sky Is Not The Limit.


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Wing Commander Grant Burr - Still Flying at Supersonic Speeds and Still Loving It

Wing Commander Grant Burr 

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

Joined the RAAF in 1996.

2001-2004, he was as a line fighter pilot during which time he deployed to fly combat missions in Iraq as part of Operation Falconer. He then was on exchange with the Canadian Forces.

In 2009, he was appointed Executive Officer 77 Squadron and focused his time on ensuring the Squadron’s junior aircrew maintained a camaraderie and passion for fighter flying.

Returning to Canada in 2012, he completed the Canadian Forces Command and Staff Course. He was next posted as Deputy Director Joint Strike Fighter Transition Team. 2015 saw him deployed on Operation Okra in the Middle East. In 2016, he became Commanding Office 77 Sqn, then returning to OKRA as leader of 77SQN combat missions 2017.   He currently serves on the Officer Aviation Specialist Stream in Air Combat Group

His conversion training to F-35A commences in 2021.



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John Kindler AO, AFC Air Vice Marshal (ret) - Ejected twice from Mirage aircraft; 1972 and 1982

Air Vice Marshal (retired) John Kindler AO, AFC 

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

As an RAAF fighter pilot and qualified test pilot, John has flown 35 different types of aircraft, but mainly the F-86 Sabre, the Mirage IIIO and the F/A-18 Hornet. He held Squadron, Wing and Group command positions in fighter operations. John was appointed Air Commander Australia in March 2000.  He was responsible for the operational training & employment of some 10,000 Air Force combat personnel and the RAAF’s fleet of combat aircraft. John has co-chaired Australia’s Defence Force Airworthiness Boards & was Chairman of the Board of Newcastle Airport Limited. He also advises Pratt and Whitney Military Engines on Defence industry and acquisition policy. John had the unusual distinction of ejecting from a Mirage on 2 separate occasions! 


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Wing Commander (retired) Ron Haack

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

Wing Commander retired Ron Haack joined the Air Force in 1970.  He thought progression to Astronaut was through fast jet and test pilot qualifications and that is exactly what he did,  except for the Astronaut bit.  His fast jet experience was mainly Mirage and F18 Hornet.  His test pilot career began with the Empire Test Pilot School at Boscombe Down, and eventually included flying the first flights of most RAAF Hornets as they rolled off the assembly line. 

His Test Flying sojourn was full of exciting and dangerous moments of which he tells many stories which make your hair stand on end.


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Sergeant Grant Biles - Hornet Aircraft Technician

Grant Biles Sergeant Hornet Aircraft Technician

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

Since 2003, Grant Biles has been a Armament Technician on the F18 Classic Hornet. 

Big job considering the number of times the Hornet has been called upon to perform under pressure.  Almost like being on the Pit Crew in a Grand Prix. 

In this Podcast, he speaks with Gareth McCray about his life helping to keep the F18 in the air and the deployments he has been on including a sojourn in the Middle East. 

A very interesting and humble man.


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Flight Lieutenant Em. F18 Fighter Pilot

Flt Lt Em  F18 Fighter Pilot

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

Flight Lieutenant Em, Fighter Pilot.  Emily joined the Australian Defence Force in 2011 as a General Service Officer under an Aviation Cadetship and graduated with a flying posting to the Defence Force Basic Flying Training School (BFTS). Finishing BFTS, she joined the RAAF as a pilot and continued training at 2 Flying Training School. She graduated to join 2 Operational Conversion Unit in December 2017 and was then posted to F18s at 77SQN, Williamtown. 

Emily relates here how her career as an Air Force fighter pilot has developed and what a ball she is having including one on one with the F35.

Find out with Emily what it is like to be a current day Fighter Pilot


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WW2 Sister Joan LOUTIT, 2nd M.A.E.T.U. (Medical Air Evacuation Unit) R.A.A.F.

Sister Joan LOUTIT, 2nd M.A.E.T.U. (Medical Air Evacuation Unit) R.A.A.F.

Sadly Mrs Joan Patterson formerly Sister Joan LOUTIT passed away on  Sept 11th 2018

A note from Joan: Friends were talking about V. J. Day and what we were doing when the Japanese surrendered in World War II. Some were at school, some went to a ball - I said I was in the Pacific Islands, nursing and flying battle-casualties back to Australia! Someone said that would make an interesting talk...

So Joan gave some talks part of which are read for you in this Podcast.



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F-35A Lightning II Wing Commander Darren Clare

F-35A Lightning II Wing Commander Darren Clare 

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

For personnel at RAAF Base Williamtown a low-flying F-35A Lightning II is hardly a remarkable sight, but a low pass conducted on August 28 held great significance for Wing Commander Darren Clare.

It was his last flight before handing over command of No. 3 Squadron.

Having flown more than 350 hours in the F-35A, Wing Commander Clare was not only one of the first RAAF pilots selected to transition to the 5th Generation platform but was also selected as the commanding officer of the first Australian squadron to receive the aircraft – an honour he said was one of the most exciting moments in his career.

In this Podcast, Wing Commander Clare talks about his F35 flying experiences.


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Wing Commander (ret) Jim Treadwell AFC OAM, Meteors, Sabres, Mirages.

Wing Commander (ret) Jim Treadwell AFC  OAM, 

(Interviewer Gareth McCray OAM)

Wing Commander retired Jim Treadwell AFC  OAM,  a highly qualified and experienced Air Force pilot and leader.  He flew fighters for most of his life including Meteors, Sabres and Mirages.

Jim talks about highlights of his career while taking part in the first Sabre Ferry to Butterworth, Malaya,  flying on operations during the Malayan Emergency,  deploying to Ubon, Thailand as part of the air defence of Thailand during the Vietnam War and then also serving during Indonesian Confrontation. 

In 1977 he resigned from the Air Force to become a farmer.

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

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.


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Doctor Ron Houghton, WW 2 Bomber Pilot

Dr Ron Houghton, 96 yrs young relates his WWII experience as a Bomber Command Pilot and later in commercial aviation.  Ron joined the RAAF Reserve in May 1942 and after training in Australia, was posted to an Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) in the UK.  Ron flew Halifax bombers with No.102 Squadron RAF, and fondly remembers a particular petrol run he undertook from Yorkshire to Brussels after Brussels was liberated.  His squadron was tasked with delivering some eighty jerry cans of petrol to the fuel starved British army in Belgium.  On completion of Bomber Command operations, Ron was posted to Fighter Command and flew Spitfires/Hurricanes.  Ron continued flying until the end of the war, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in May 1945 for 'skill and fortitude in operations against the enemy'.  Upon discharge in November 1945, Ron joined Qantas, eventually working his way up to executive level.  After leaving Qantas, Ron worked with several Asian airlines.  He then completed a PhD in aeronautical engineering at Sydney University, eventually becoming an Honorary Associate.  Ron currently serves as President of the Bomber Command Association of Australia.  Ron recalls the mateship that formed in crews and he has kept in touch with his Bomber Command crew throughout the years.

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