Home' Air Force News : October 27th 2011 Contents 17
October 27, 2011
NOELEAN (Kim) Best was born
36 days after her father, FSGT Noel
Charlton, was killed in a Dakota acci-
dent in Canberra in 1957.
With no siblings and her mother
dying just five years after the acci-
dent, Mrs Best knew little of her
More than 50 years later, she set
out to rectify that by learning more
about the tragic accident that claimed
Luckily, several former and serv-
ing members came to her aid.
"While researching, I came across
David Street, who served with my dad
[in 38 Transport Squadron] and who
had been a close friend," she said.
"David had placed his profile on
a website called Airman Aircrew and
he suggested I submit a profile of dad.
"The webmaster, Lance
Haslewood, a former loadmaster, cre-
FORTY years after the RAAF's
involvement in the Vietnam War
ended and 35SQN's final four Cari-
bous arrived home at RAAF Base
Richmond, an anniversary is set to
be marked with a reunion.
The RAAF Transport Flight
Vietnam (RTFV)-35 Squadron
Association in Brisbane is inviting
anyone who served with the units
and/or their family members to
attend the reunion on February 26
35SQN was the last RAAF unit
out of Vietnam.
Its arrival home on February 26,
1972, ended an eight-year vital logis-
tic support mission by the squadron.
The involvement began in early
1964 when the Australian govern-
ment decided to deploy an air trans-
port unit to assist with the war effort.
A number of Caribous were
being delivered to Australia from
Canada, so three of these were
diverted to South Vietnam via
Butterworth. They would become
the RAAF's first unit in Vietnam.
The RTFV arrived at Vung Tau
on August 8, 1964, and became
widely known in South Vietnam
as Wallaby Airlines, after the air-
Under the operational com-
mand of the US Air Force, the
group comprised six officers, seven
SNCOs and six airmen, under
the command of SQNLDR Chris
Its first operational flight took
place on August 14. Other Caribous
followed and on June 1, 1966,
RTFV was renamed 35 (Transport)
During its service, about 790
personnel served with the unit,
which flew about 81,000 sorties
across South Vietnam over 40,000
hours. Wallaby Airlines carried
680,000 passengers and 46 million
kilograms of cargo.
Other missions included para-
troop airdrops, flare drops (to illu-
minate the landscape for ground
forces) and medical evacuations.
Over the eight years, a number
of aircraft were lost or badly dam-
aged but in its entire service the
squadron didn't lose a member.
The reunion will include a
range of ceremonial and social
activities and visits.
Anyone requiring further infor-
mation and to register their interest
in attending is asked to complete an
online form at www.rtfv-35sqn.org
and follow the link to the reunion.
For more information, contact president
John McDougall on (07) 3376 2994,
0488 025527 or sueandcilla@hotmail.
com, or secretary John Sambrooks,
(07) 3851 0624, 0408 872 376 or
ated a fine profile of my dad on the
Ms Best told Mr Haslewood that
she had no mementoes of her father's
service. Mr Haslewood immediately
set out to rectify that.
"Under the radar, he made a large
wooden plaque set with RAAF badges
and crests and, most remarkably, a
genuine pilot's brevet, of the same
type my dad received on graduation,"
Commander Combat Support
Group AIRCDRE Noddy Sawade
donated the brevet, along with a sec-
ond brevet which Lance had inscribed
with FSGT Charlton's name and ser-
"This memento is a unique tribute
to my father and, together with his
Airman Aircrew profile, is meaning-
ful recognition of his brief term of
"Without Airman Aircrew and
Lance, I could never have come this
far in my journey to find my dad," Ms
FSGT Charlton enlisted in 1954
and graduated from No. 18 pilot's
course in 1955.
He posted as a co-pilot to 38
Transport Squadron, based at RAAF
Canberra (later RAAF Base Fairbairn)
in the ACT.
About 8.22pm on the evening of
March 19, 1957, he was the co-pilot
aboard Dakota A65-112, which was
on standby for search and rescue
The other crewmembers were
the captain, FLGOFF Hector Neil
Macdonald, navigator SGT Ian
Mackrill and wireless operator SGT
Under normal procedures the crew
used their time to practise night flying
and had carried out three take-offs and
landings without incident.
The aircraft lifted off for the fourth
circuit but when it was about 30m
from the ground, the port engine suf-
fered a catastrophic failure as the pro-
peller started to over-speed.
FLGOFF Macdonald immediately
feathered the propeller, which should
have taken about 10 to 15 seconds.
However, the drive gear to the con-
stant unit had failed and feathering
took 30 seconds or more.
FLGOFF Macdonald was con-
cerned that the crippled aircraft would
not clear the terrain. Worse, because
of the engine failure, it was almost
impossible for the aircraft to climb.
He took the only option avail-
able and turned back towards the
aerodrome as he hoped to conduct
an emergency landing in paddocks
south of it but also needed to clear
the inhabited areas of Campbell and
He turned the aircraft, which
was now in real danger from Mount
Pleasant, which rises above Duntroon.
He passed over the built-up areas,
but, heading east back towards the air-
port and, still trying to climb to avoid
the mountain, the Dakota stalled.
It crashed into Duntroon, narrowly
missing some married quarters and
exploded into flames. None of the
crew survived and the aircraft was
almost completely destroyed.
The Airman Aircrew website can be
accessed at www.airmanaircrew.com
Filling in a tragic story
GLORIOUS PAST: Above, SGT Dave East, a 38SQN
flight engineer, looks over a wall of clippings from the
then RAAF News featuring the Caribous' long service to
Australia. They were part of the RAAF's first unit in Vietnam
in early 1964 when the Australian Government decided
to deploy an air transport unit to assist with the war effort.
Then they were the last to leave in 1972. Photo: AC David Said
WALLABY AIRLINES: Left, RAAF A4 DHC 4 Caribou
crews return to Vung Tau in South Vietnam.
Photo courtesy RAAF Museum
Marking return from Vietnam
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