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January 31, 2013
AIR Force's most experi-
enced fighter instructor has
been recorded in the 2013
Guinness World Records as the
world's oldest active fighter pilot.
Born in March 1952, SQNLDR
Phillip Frawley, of 76SQN at RAAF
Base Williamtown, replaced Israeli
fighter pilot, BRIG-GEN Uri Gil,
who set the previous record of 60
years and 72 days.
With more than 8300 flying
hours -- close to 5000 in fast jets and
more than 2000 flying instruction
-- SQNLDR Frawley said the main
thing which had not changed during
his career was the thrill of flying.
"I also gain a great deal of satis-
faction from instructing, so my real
thrill is seeing our young, talented
pilots leave the Hawks to become
F/A-18 pilots," he said.
"I always wanted to be a pilot,
so I'm just doing what I love and
to be in the current Guinness World
Records is the icing on the cake.
"My advice to future pilots is to
never let anyone dissuade you from
achieving your dreams."
SQNLDR Frawley joined the
RAAF when he was 15 in 1969 as
an apprentice scientific instrument
In 1973 he was selected for pilot
training and after graduating flew
the C-130 Hercules for five years
before beginning his training as a
fighter pilot in 1980.
SQNLDR Frawley recalled an
embarrassing incident from his days
"I went out to the flightline at
RAAF Base Richmond looking
for the aircraft which was flying to
Darwin," he said.
"The ground crew pointed me
towards a Hercules, so I started
doing all the pre-flight checks in
preparation for the captain and the
rest of the crew.
"I was sitting in the aircraft
ready to start the engines when I
noticed people running around a
C-130 at the other end of the flight-
line like the Keystone Cops.
"It was then I realised I was in
the wrong aeroplane and they were
looking for me."
After flying Mirages for five
years with 77SQN and 3SQN in
Butterworth and becoming a quali-
fied flying instructor, SQNLDR
Frawley spent two years at RAAF
Base Point Cook training pilot
recruits before becoming the lead-in
fighter flight commander.
He began training on the F/A-
18s in 1988 and was retained by
2 Operational Conversion Unit as an
instructor and Hornet training flight
SQNLDR Frawley said he had a
few close calls as a fighter pilot.
"One was when I was flying
Mirages -- I nearly had a mid-air
collision in Malaysia," he said.
"It was during a strafe pattern run
and the other aircraft passed so close I
lost control of mine, developing into a
spin at 1500 feet above the water.
"I was lucky to escape from that
one -- adrenalin, panic and self-pres-
ervation took over."
His last posting in 28 years of
full-time service was as the CO of
76SQN, which he regarded as the
highlight of his career.
British Aerospace then gained
his talents as an instructor with the
Royal Saudi Air Force for five years.
On his return to Australia
SQNLDR Frawley rejoined the
Air Force in his current role as a
dedicated reserve instructor on the
Hawk Lead-in Fighter.
He said because of his age, med-
ical staff paid close attention to his
health and fitness requirements.
"Fitness for a fighter pilot is a
high priority, but as I am an avid
surfer who walks everywhere, I can
still pass my aircrew medicals," he
said. "But it is getting harder."
Warbirds take up SQNLDR
Frawley's leisure time and he was
the first pilot to fly a civilian jet
warbird in Australia.
As a civilian instructor with a
low-level aerobatics qualification
he has been an air show demon-
stration pilot since 1989 with the
Sabre for the RAAF Museum and is
now involved in flying civilians in
Macchi jet fighter trainer
Mirage jet fighter
Hawk Lead-in Fighter
Sabre jet fighter
Tiger Moth trainer
Fokker triplane fighter replica
Hornet Moth vintage aircraft
Fiat G-59 Italian WWII fighter
Hawker Sea Fury WWII fighter
P-40 Kittyhawk WWII fighter
T-28 Trojan fighter trainer
MiG-15 Korean War fighter
MiG-21 Vietnam War fighter
Strikemaster fighter trainer
L-39 fighter trainer
TBM-3 Avenger WWII bomber
he's the oldest
SQNLDR Phillip Frawley dethrones Israeli, reports CPL Mark Doran
THE THRILL LINGERS: SQNLDR Phillip Frawley in front of the L 79 jet;
main photo, SQNLDR Frawley teaches future fighter pilots the finer points
of air combat during a briefing at 76SQN at RAAF Base Williamtown.
Photos: CPL David Gibbs and LAC Craig Barrett
WORLDBEATER'S GOT A TICKET TO FLY ...
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