Ad Astra Aviator Podcasts.

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

Ad Astra Logo

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

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

 

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. 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

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

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.

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

Lesley Gent OAM - RAAF Family Energetic Wife

Introducing LESLEY GENT  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.

She grew up in Country NSW.  After schooling, she moved to Sydney and worked at David Jones as a Press Relations Officer.  A most exciting job.  Maharaja of Mysore, Rolling Stones, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones

Her Father was Superintendent of Police in the North Eastern District: he had been Mounted Police.  In Newcastle she accompanied her father to the Winter Ball at RAAF Williamtown .  This is where she met her future husband Garry: he was in a striking uniform and was walking around with a bottle of Champagne under his arm.  She and Garry were married the following December(1969).

Her first encounter with the hierarchy of the RAAF was when the Commanding Officer’s wife invited her and another new wife for afternoon tea.  She was “lectured” formally on her responsibility to her husband and to the RAAF.  Lesley says she adhered to these requirement, within reason,  until Garry retired.   He has always maintained he didn’t know what hit him that day. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

More Background Info

 

LESLEY GENT OAM

·      Born Wellington NSW

My father was a Mounted Policeman so we moved fairly frequently -  good training for a RAAF marriage.   Mounted men always looked rather dashing -  maybe that is why I fell for someone in uniform.

·      One of the earliest lady rally drivers.  -  Oberon forest

 

·      Had some exciting jobs before settling down to life as a RAAF wife.  – Press Relations Officer at David Jones,  Sydney.   Met and worked with some amazing people – Donald Campbell, Rolling Stones,  Tony Bennett, Maharajah of Mysore. 

 

·      Met Garry at the 1969 Winter Ball at Williamtown.  -  Father was Superintendent of Police for the North Eastern District and while staying with my parents in Newcastle I accompanied my father to the Winter Ball at Williamtown .  So started my long association with the RAAF.  Met Garry at the Ball -  he was walking around with a bottle of Champagne under his arm and I thought hey, hey.

 

·      Wedding plans worked in around flying.  We were married the following December -  I was given a choice of two dates for the wedding,  The Christmas break as there would be no flying owing to the resurfacing of the runway or the following Easter as the Base closed down, and again no flying. 

·      Meeting the OCs wife and lectured on our responsibility to our husbands and to the RAAF.   My first encounter with the hierarchy of the RAAF was when the CO’s wife invited myself and another new wife for afternoon tea.   We were then “lectured” on our responsibility to our husbands and to the RAAF.  Now Margaret and myself were not young girls at this stage and both had been out in the wide world and to be told that I think we were both bug eyed.    One of the more memorable points we were told is not to argue or for that matter disagree with our husbands -  the fear was that they  would be distracted when flying, I guess worried about the argument, and might have an accident.  I have never worked out if it was the loss of a pilot was the worry or the loss of an expensive aircraft.   Considering the RAAF was not paying my wages I was rather taken aback. -

I adhered to this command, within reason,  until 14 years later when Garry retired.   He has always maintained he didn’t know what hit him the day he retired. 

 

·      Thoroughly enjoyed moving -  I know some partners didn’t like it but I had never known anything else and looked forward to the posting lists coming out.

Williamtown -  Butterworth – Williamtown – Canberra – Williamtown.

·      I was shocked at how little the RAAF pay was in those days –If I remember correctly I was earning more than my husband.   That is one thing that has improved greatly and a lot to do with agitation by wives.  Some airmen were classed as living below the poverty line.  ie some General Hands  had their RAAF wage supplemented by the Government.   The housing was pretty ghastly back then especially for airmen and their families.  Some of it was definitely  sub-standard.    I can remember when Garry was CO 77 visiting airmen’s families out at Thornton, just out of Maitland,   when there was a push to improve their housing.  And being amazed at the housing conditions some airmen and their families were  living in. Housing supplied by the RAAF was, to my mind and others,  sub standard,  Stoves not working,  one home built on piers had no steps so the washing was taken out through the carport and around to the back yard.  I visited the airmen’s homes on numerous occasions and found it hard to believe some of the conditions. Conditions have changed enormously for families of servicemen and women. Mainly for the better.  

At Wiliamtown there is no Base housing - Now  service personnel can choose their own home and rent subsidised.   A shame really as there was always a support network right at hand when the Squadron was on detachments or there had been an accident.  Also someone to pick the kids up from school if mother was held up at David Jones or wherever

·      Three years at Butterworth  - It wasn’t all that bad as I could escape to Singapore when Garry was on detachment. I would drive, by myself,   to Singapore. Sometimes stopping at KL but not always.  One trip there was an alert because of the Communist activities.   Pulled up by the Malaysian army on the northern side of KL were they tried to tell me I wasn’t going to Singapore -  My command of Bahasa was on a match with the Majors command of English.  He telling me I wasn’t going to Singapore and there was  me saying I was.  Finally all was sorted as what he was trying to say was I shouldn’t be driving to Singapore.   On the other side of KL another tent full of soldiers – they checked that I had safely made it through.

The Causeway at Singapore and the Customs sometimes caused some angst.  

·      Spent two weeks in Changi Hospital –  Staffed by British Army Nurses.  Tough!! But then they had to be as they were dealing mainly with men and you know what horrid patients men can sometimes be.  Princess Margaret came to visit one day as she was Colonel in Chief of the Royal Highland Fusiliers.  She had a very young Australian Aide and he was trying to match HRH in the alcohol stakes.  I think his Commanding Officer thought rather poorly of the young chap as he wasn’t fit to accompany HRH the next day.    

 

 

·      Garry served 30 years in the RAAF having joined as an apprentice and when he reached that milestone we went farming!!   The Rural Fire Brigade was one of our main interests and I spent many years on the Education Advisory Panel.   Garry leaving the RAAF was somewhat sad -  for me it had been a wonderful 15 years

 

·      The RAAF, however,  was still in Garry’s blood and when, just six months after retirement the RAAF offered him a job back at Williamtown in the lead up to the FA18s, he couldn’t pack his bags quickly enough.    The job was for twelve months that turned into five years.   In the meantime Alexander and I were living on the farm.  It wasn’t too bad but so, so far away from the city with the theatres and more importantly the shops.

 

 

·      We returned to live in Newcastle after our son went to Sydney University.  Garry began his long association with Legacy and 77 Squadron Association and  I went to Sydney University to study Ancient Greek and Rome,  a passion I still have to this day,  driving down and back each day. 

 

·      Talked into being Secretary/Treasurer of 77 Squadron Association a job I held until it disbanded to fall under the umbrella of RAAFA.   During that time I worked solidly in support of veterans and their families and absolutely loved it.   Made some wonderful friends amongst the veterans – men like Dinny O’Brien, John Seaton, Jake Newham and Ray Seaver and their wives.   World War 2 men, almost all gone now, added another depth to my understanding.

 

 

·      The difference between the men and women who fought in Europe with Bombers and Spitfires and those who in 1942 formed 75, 76 and 77 Squadrons and moved to the Islands is not just about planes.   The men in Europe were defending the Mother country and talk about it as such -  the men in the Islands were defending their own country. 

 

·      I also continue to have close contact with 77 Squadron RAF and researched and wrote a book for them “Killed in Service”.  

 

Research for Bomber Command  is often very varied and my 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 his plane was hit by flak and crashed at Witmarsum and exploded.  The remains of all the crew were buried by local inhabitants in the Wonsersdeel (Witmarsum) Protestant church yard in a communal grave.   The remains were recovered after the war and in 1952 Kenneth was reinterred  at the Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands Collective grave 20. Row H 1-7 where he rests with his friends. 

Pieter Yntema’s aunt  remembers the plane flying past her window in flames.  Petier and his brother had to mow the lawn where the plane crashed.

The work continues for veterans and as they grow older they are more interested in being in touch with old comrades -  RAAFA helps with this.    The old and young veterans and their families need support in many ways – and selfishly it gives me great satisfaction to help them.

Although I had very little to do with the RAAF when Garry was in my association with the Air Force and service people is stronger now than twenty years ago.

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

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

Introducing Wing Commander (ret) Matt Hall. 

“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.

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

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

Wing Commander Grant Burr 

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.

 

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

John Kindler AO, AFC - Ejected twice from Mirage aircraft; 1972 and 1982

Air Vice Marshal (retired) John Kindler AO, AFC 

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! 

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

RON HAACK. AIR FORCE TEST PILOT. MOMENTS IN MY LIFE

Wing Commander (retired) Ron Haack

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.

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

Sergeant Grant Biles - Hornet Aircraft Technician

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.

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

Emily Willis. F18 Fighter Pilot

Flight Lieutenant Emily Willis, 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

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

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.

 

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

F-35A Lightning II Wing Commander Darren Clare

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.

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

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

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.

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

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

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.

 

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast

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.

Listen to Podcast
View Extra Info/Photos
Download the Podcast