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March 28, 2013
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RESPECT -- EXCELLENCE -- AGILITY -- DEDICATION -- INTEGRITY -- TEAMWORK
Living the Air Force Values:
100 years of Central
CPL Aaron Curran
MORE than 230 people from
around Australia came together at
RAAF Base East Sale on March
8 for the 100th anniversary of
Central Flying School (CFS).
CFS was the first Australian
military flying unit formed at
Point Cook on March 7, 1913.
The determination of the Air
Force personnel and invited guests
to enjoy the anniversary festivities
and catch up with old comrades
was not dented by the 38 degree
heat that enveloped Gippsland on
It started with a barbecue
and then a flying display from
a Winjeel, an ex-Rhodesian Air
Force Vampire and the Roulettes.
That night an all-ranks dinner was
held in the Officers Mess with
CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Brown in
CAF spoke of CFS's proud
tradition of excellence and set-
ting high-flying standards for Air
"CFS has been an integral
part of setting and maintain-
ing the customs, traditions and
esprit de corps for our Air Force,"
AIRMSHL Brown said.
"I congratulate CFS on their
outstanding achievements. It is
a magnificent milestone that we
can all be justifiably proud to
CO CFS WGCDR Colin
"I am very proud of what CFS
Air Force celebrates a
century of CFS history
CPL Aaron Curran
IT IS SAID that the Air Force is
one big extended family and this is
certainly true for SQNLDR Matthew
SQNLDR Plenty, Chief Flying
Instructor of Central Flying School
(CFS), is one of a long line of dis-
tinguished family members who
have served with CFS since the
"My uncle Herb was CO at CFS
from 1962 to 1964, my father Ed
was CO from 1971 to 1973 and my
brother Brian (also known as Jack),
who recently retired an AVM, was
an instructor at CFS and flew with
Another uncle, Geoffrey, was a
RAAF WOFF pilot who was killed
flying Kittyhawks during train-
ing in Egypt in 1944. His nephew
Nicholas is a Navy helicopter pilot
with more than 12 years' experi-
ence in that role.
"I think Nick was trying to avoid
the shadow thrown out by our fam-
ily," SQNLDR Plenty said.
"With me it was different due to
the fact that by the time dad retired
I had seen enough aircraft and
RAAF bases that I wanted to be an
Air Force pilot."
He said he had always wanted
to join the RAAF and to serve in his
current role was an honour.
"It is such a privilege to serve in
a unit with the kind of history that
CFS has," he said.
"Although at times upholding
CFS's high standards can weigh
heavily on you."
His father Ed and brother Brian
managed to make it to the anniver-
sary celebrations on March 8 and
the dinner that night.
"When we all get together there
is understandably a lot of banter at
the table," he said.
Plenty of memories to share
to meet the challenges of the
"The biggest challenge for
CFS will be mastering the signifi-
cant use of aviation simulation for
new capabilities, such as the Joint
Strike Fighter, and ensuring that
we develop personnel with the
right skills for that job," WGCDR
"It will be a new dimension
for the school to explore qualify-
ing pilots and instructors through
simulation only, but CFS will
always have a leading role in sup-
plying flying instructors for new
does and I am humbled and proud
to lead the unit in its 100th year,"
WGCDR O'Neil said.
"The unit celebration was a
really good day for everyone. I
met many new people and got to
hear their stories and experiences."
One of those with fond memo-
ries of CFS who attended the
celebrations was former WGCDR
Mr Biddell was CO of CFS
from 1980 to 1981, a Chief Flying
Instructor in the mid-70s and also
served in Malaya and Vietnam.
"It fired me up to see every-
one," Mr Biddell said.
"I have been out of the Air
Force for more than 30 years but
when I caught up with my old
mates it was like yesterday."
He said even though things
were a bit rougher back then, his
time at CFS was some of the most
satisfying years he had while in
the Air Force.
"We were in the old WWII
huts and it was pretty basic," Mr
Biddell said. "We had no comput-
ers and all our briefings were hand
drawn. We used chalk boards and
home-made training aids."
Back then he said it was one
of the only units where you could
ring up the then-posting officer
and demand people who they saw
as the best to come to CFS.
"It was, and still is, a key ele-
ment of excellence in the RAAF
and that is why we are one of the
best Air Forces in the world," Mr
WGCDR O'Neil said the need
for military aviation excellence
was first identified 100 years ago
with the formation of the first
flight school at Point Cook.
"It was with incredible fore-
sight that only 10 years after the
first aircraft flew we established
a school for military aviation," he
"Since CFS re-formed in 1940,
excellence in flying instruction
has been at its core."
With that level of professional-
ism at the heart of the unit, CFS
and its members are well placed
CAPTURING OLD AND NEW: Top, an
ex-Rhodesian Air Force Vampire leads the
Roulettes in a flying display to mark the 100th
anniversary of CFS at RAAF Base East Sale.
Inset, WOFF Iain Crapp, of 453SQN, captures the
flying display from below. Photos: CPL Aaron Curran
FAMILY REUNION: XO CFS SQNLDR Matthew Plenty with his father Ed
Plenty, who was CO CFS from 1971-73, at the school's 100th anniversary.
Photo: CPL Aaron Curran
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