Home' Air Force News : April 14th 2011 Contents FLTLT Trevor Grant and
LAC Bill Solomou
ON A crisp morning at Ballarat on
March 31, 60 aircrews from around
Australia began pre-flighting their
vintage aircraft before the start of the
final leg of a special cross-country
flight to mark the fitting climax of Air
Force's 90th anniversary.
The event was the Air Pilgrimage,
which started at Temora Aviation
Museum on March 28 and ended on
the 31st at the 'Home of the RAAF";
the RAAF Williams-Point Cook base.
The route took the many iconic
aircraft from Temora to Tocumwal
and Ballarat before arriving at Point
Cook. These airfields have special
historic connections for the service as
they were RAAF training bases dur-
ing the war.
Warbirds in the fleet included
Wirraways, a Spitfire, a P-51 Mustang,
the only Hudson bomber in the world
still flying, a Catalina flying boat and an
Auster used for Army support.
Trainers such as the Avro Cadet,
Tiger Moths, YAK 52, Winjeel and
CT4 were also represented.
Civilian aircraft from those days
of early commercial aviation included
a DC-3, a Stinson Reliant, Beechcraft
Staggerwing, De Havilland Dragon
TOGETHER AGAIN: Beavers organising committee members, from left,
WGCDR Frank Grimshaw, Bernard Knowler and Warren Dickson with
Photo: LAC Bill Solomou
LAC Bill Solomou
IN 1961, 137 youths aged between 15
and 17 signed up as engineering ap-
prentices. They were the 15th intake
of the RAAF engineering apprentice
scheme and were known as the Bea-
vers (Furry Dam Workers).
To coincide with the Air Force's
90th anniversary, 85 members of the
Beavers reunited on the steps of the
Australian War Memorial in Canberra
on March 31.
They were there to place a wreath
in memory of their fallen comrades,
and to participate in the 90th com-
This year marked the Beavers 50th
anniversary and reservist WGCDR
Frank Grimshaw said the members
still kept in touch either by email or
through their newsletter.
"If you talk to the majority of the
guys, they would say they were proud
to be members of the RAAF and in
particular as Beavers; we had a good
life and got great training," he said.
On completion of their training,
members worked in diverse positions
from airframe, electrical, instrument,
engine, armament and motor trans-
The Beavers served on every Air
Force base in Australia and partici-
pated in many overseas operational
Beavers eager at reunion
Rapide, Lockheed 12 and a De
AIRCDRE Rod Luke, the director
of the event, said to see these historic
aircraft get airborne was absolutely
"Some of these crews have flown
from all over Australia at their own
expense to take part and help us cel-
ebrate 90 years of Air Force aviation
history," AIRCDRE Luke said.
The highlight for him would occur
when they "got to Point Cook, the
Mecca of Air Force aviation, and have
all the aircraft there and soak up the
Before the aircraft departed
Temora, among the well-wishers was
former FLTLT Spitfire and Kittyhawk
pilot Ted Sly who had fought the
Germans in the skies over the UK, the
Italians and Germans in the Middle
East and the Japanese in the Pacific
While flying with 457SQN, Ted
instigated the name 'Grey Nurse
Squadron' and the adding of sharks'
teeth to the lower side of the aircraft
He reminisced as he walked
among the assembled aircraft.
"It is a great display and I am proud I
flew the Spitfire," he said.
After the excitement of the
departure from Temora, the town of
Tocumwal was treated to the sights
and sounds of the incoming aircraft
as they landed. During the day, they
were able to see the aircraft from
close up and talk to the aircrews, with
the Roulettes putting on a spectacular
show at the end of the day.
The next day, it was the people
of Ballarat who were alerted to the
arrival of the aircraft, by the sounds of
the Rolls Royce Merlin and Packard
engines of the Spitfire and Mustang
and the Pratt and Whitney engines of
the Hudson as they led the pack.
During the stay, more than 7000
people visited the aircraft and, again,
the Roulettes provided the finishing
PLANNING AHEAD: Pilgrimage director AIRCDRE Rod Luke addresses the Air Pilgrimage participants at a
Photo: FLTLT Trevor Grant
JOURNEY'S END: Spectators at
Point Cook. Photo: CPL Steve Duncan LINING UP: A Beechcraft Staggerwing
Photo: FLTLT Trevor Grant
They came, soared
April 14, 2011
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