Home' Air Force News : February 3rd 2011 Contents 27
February 3, 2011
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The crash of four acrobatic
aircraft in 1962 was the
catalyst for a new book,
Andrew Stackpool reports.
AVIATION is one of the
world's safest pursuits.
Every year thousands of
aircraft fly millions of miles
By virtue of its environment and
tasking, arguably military high-speed
jet aviation is the most dangerous of
all -- and especially so for the world's
military aerobatic teams who fly at
high speed to thrill the crowds with
their airmanship and performances,
often with their aircraft only a few
The pilots are among the finest
any country can produce, well used to
working as a close team.
Yet when something goes wrong,
the results can be tragic.
One such case is the former RAAF
Red Sales team. It flew the twin-place
version of the twin-boom Vampire jet
fighter, which had been modified for
high-speed aerobatic manoeuvres.
The team comprised four aircraft
from Central Flying School (CFS)
based at RAAF Base East Sale. It
formed there in 1961.
The pilots were FLTLT Reg Jones,
the team leader and most experienced
of the group, FLTLT Peter Hearnden,
FLTLT Alex Young and FLTLT Martie
Burke. Unfortunately, all perished in a
training accident on August 15, 1962.
FLTLT Burke's daughter Cathy
Costa has produced a small book
about the day and the men, which she
has entitled, The Red Sales.
"It is in memory of all these talent-
ed and brave men that I have written a
brief biography about each of them,"
They were highly skilled CFS
instructors and jet fighter pilots, chosen
for their above-average flying abilities,
experience and discipline; both as team
members and individuals.
Also along on the practice to assist
with flight controls were FLTLT Mike
Dunbar (flying with Young in No. 3)
and FLGOFF Don Gow (flying No 4.
Shortly before 1.45pm on the day
of the crash, they took off to practice
formation aerobatics in the training
area south-east of East Sale in prepa-
ration for a coming RAAF display.
About 15 minutes later, a Dakota
aircraft contacted the East Sale tower
to report it had sighted an explo-
sion and black smoke coming from
the ground. All four Vampires had
crashed while performing a low-level
barrel roll, with all six aircrew killed
Despite an investigation by the
RAAF Directorate of Flying Safety
and then a Court of Inquiry, no single
cause for the accident was ever deter-
The funerals for FLTLTs Jones and
Young was held on August 19 and they
were buried at Sale Cemetery with
FLTLT Burke, whose private funeral
had been held two days before.
FLTLTs Hearnden's and Dunbar's
funerals were held together in
Melbourne on August 21 and they
were interred in Fawkner Cemetery
and Springvale Crematorium respec-
FLGOFF Gow's funeral was
held in Sydney on August 21 and he
is interred at the Northern Suburbs
In February 1963, a new aerobat-
ics team was formed, the Telstars.
They also flew Vampires and in time
were replaced by the Roulettes, who
continue to thrill the crowds with
their precision flying today in PC-9A
Meanwhile, a memorial plaque
and rose garden in honour of the six
pilots was created at the base. The
families, base and local community all
remember the Red Sales.
Every year on the anniversary
of the accident it is reported that an
anonymous resident in the area places
a bunch of wildflowers near the crash
Information for this article courtesy of
Cathy Costa. For more information on
Ms Costa's book, The Red Sales, email
crew No 3
PRACTICE FLIGHT: The Red Sales aerobatic team
flying in A-A formation on August 1, 1962, two weeks
before the fateful crash that killed all six pilots.
Photo: courtesy of the RAAF Museum
A MUCH-LOVED Warrant Officer
Disciplinary who was once chaired
from his base was farewelled for the
final time on January 7.
More than 60 former apprentices
from RAAF Base Forest Hill (now
Wagga) formed a guard of honour
at the funeral of WOFF Patrick
William Arthur Dutton.
WOFF Dutton -- known as
Bill, Dexter or Starchy -- died on
He was born in Charters Towers
in 1916 and enlisted in the Army in
1934. He served in the Australian
theatre early in WWII before being
medically discharged after a motor
In 1945, he was able to re-enlist
and was deployed to Japan as part
of the occupying force until 1948.
He enlisted in the RAAF
in 1949 and carved out a distin-
guished career at various levels of
recruit and specialised drill training,
including with the newly formed
RAAF Central Band and at the
RAAF Academy. He was also the
WOD called upon to prepare RAAF
contingents or honour guards
required for special occasions.
His final posting before he
retired on April 22, 1968, was at
Forest Hill where he won the
respect of personnel at all levels,
but particularly from the recruits
and apprentices under his charge.
At his retirement, the appren-
tices constructed a special sedan
chair (worthy of a king) and more
than 400 of them marched to his
house bearing the chair to the sound
of bugles and drums. After WOFF
Dutton mounted the chair, 20 of
them carried him to the parade
ground and he sat on the edge tak-
ing their salute as they marched
past in honour.
Many onlookers commented
that this would be the first time he
had ever sat down on the parade
After his retirement, WOFF
Dutton joined the NSW Public
Service and served with the State
Housing Commission until he
retired from public life in 1978.
He and his wife Margaret then
moved to Newcastle and later to
At his funeral service, he was
described as an extraordinary
human being, a larger than life
FLASHBACK TO 1968:
WOFF Dutton honoured by the
FLTLT Philip Young,
30, No 3 Aircraft.
28, No 2 Aircraft.
FLGOFF Donald Gow,
27, Crew No 4 Aircraft.
FLTLT Reginald Jones,
36, Lead Aircraft.
FLTLT Martie Burke,
28, No 4 Aircraft.
FLTLT Phili Y
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