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November 24, 2011
THE wisdom of William Shake-
speare was to the fore when more
than 200 serving and former Air
Force members and colleagues
from the Navy, Army and Australian
Defence Organisation attended the
2011 RAAF History Conference on
In his keynote address, CAF
AIRMSHL Geoff Brown said that it
was timely to hold the conference
in Air Force's 90th year and at a time
when there were great changes
happening across the Air Force and
challenges facing its commanders
daily as they plan for the future
"There are a lot of lessons in
history that we often forget," he
"Shakespeare once wrote
-- 'What's past is prologue'. He
understood that the past sets the
scene for the really important things
that we seek to achieve."
The conference was held at
the National Convention Centre in
Canberra and was coordinated by
the Air Power Development Centre.
Under the theme Evolving the
Air Force: 90 years of the RAAF,
the conference examined the
development and evolution of the
service, from its inception in 1921
to the present, with a look at its
likely evolution in the future, as
shaped by aspects of its history.
The conference comprised
nine papers, supported by "lively"
question and answer sessions.
They examined the search for
an air strategy for Australia, the
legacy of the original Australian
Flying Corps, the roles of the RAAF
between the wars, the shaping
of the service in three wars, the
dynamics of the 1960s and drive for
modernisation in the late 20th and
early 21st Centuries, the impacts
of both the F-111 and Joint Strike
Fighter, and an examination of the
relevance of the history and heritage
of the service as maintained by the
AIRMSHL Brown reminded the
conference that history shows that
air forces always reflect the societies
from which they were formed and that
the RAAF was no different. Australian
society has evolved and the structure,
organisation and values of Air Force
have also evolved in line with such
"We need to learn from the
experiences of past RAAF members
who also implemented changes to
the way we manage our people and
maintain our capability," CAF said.
Air Force historian Dr Chris Clark
said it was "great" to see how Air
Force personnel were increasingly
interested in its history.
"They can see how important
history is for the evolution of our
air power capabilities and for
the transition from the Air Force
of today into the Air Force of
tomorrow," Dr Clark said.
AN IMPORTANT piece of Australia's
early aviation history is on permanent
loan to Air Force.
Members of the Goble family pre-
sented the restored Britannia Trophy
that was awarded to their forebear, AVM
Stanley Goble, on the historic occasion
of the first circumnavigation and aeri-
al survey of the Australian coastline in
The presentation occurred on
November 4 during the RAAF History
Former CDRE John Goble CMDR
David Goble, Dr Alan Goble and Mr
Ivor "Jimmy" Goble represented the
family and presented the unique relic to
CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Brown.
AVM Goble was born in Victoria in
1891 and served during WWI with the
Royal Naval Air Service and then the
Royal Air Force, achieving 10 victories.
After the Armistice, he returned to
Australia as a LTCOL, but attached to
the RAN. In 1919 he was assigned to
the temporary Air Board established to
examine the feasibility of establishing
an Australian Air Force following the
disbandment of the Australian Flying
His historic flight started on April
6, 1924, when he (as a WGCDR) and
FLTLT Ivor McIntyre took off from
Point Cook in a Fairey IIID seaplane and
set out in an anti-clockwise direction.
WGCDR Goble (who went on to
become Chief of Air Staff) was navigator
and aircraft commander. McIntyre was
They returned 44 days and 13,700km
As they flew over Point Cook, a
formation of 12 RAAF aircraft joined
them to escort them to their landing at St
Kilda beach where they were met by a
crowd of 10,000 cheering people.
They had spent 90 hours in the air
and survived bad weather, poor maps,
damage to the aircraft, insect bites,
strain, fatigue and compass failure.
Both men were made Commanders
of the British Empire and received the
Britannia Trophy. The Royal Aero Club
awarded it annually to the British aviator
or aviators who had accomplished "the
most meritorious performance in avia-
tion during the previous year".
In presenting the trophy, CDRE
Goble said that there had been two tro-
phies, one for then WGCDR Goble, the
other for FLTLT McIntyre.
"At the time [their journey] was
described as the finest flight in
Australian aviation," CDRE Goble said.
In accepting the trophy, AIRMSHL
Brown said that the flight was an
important part of Air Force history, as
was the trophy.
"It is a very significant piece of Air
Force history that we didn't know exist-
ed," AIRMSHL Brown said.
The trophy will now be part of a
special display about the flight at the
RAAF Museum at Point Cook. It will
also include parts of the Fairey IIID and
AVM Goble's uniform.
PICTURE: Right, part
of John W. Leeden's
1987 prize-winning oil
which shows WGCDR
Goble and FLTLT
McIntyre as they circle
the Point Cook airfield
at the end of their
of Australia in 1924.
The work was equal
first in the 1988 RAAF
art prize. Below,
former CDRE John
Goble, son of Stanley
Geoff Brown with the
Britannia Trophy: a
model of the Fairey
Photo below: FSGT John
Enter stage right at RAAF conference
'It is a very significant piece
of Air Force history that we
didn't know existed.
-- AIRMSHL Geoff Brown
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