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August 15, 2013
SGT Ben van den Akker
THE Air Force Band is celebrating
90 years of pumping out bopping
tunes around the globe.
Two concerts will be held this
month reflecting on the nine dec-
ades of service -- with all 40 musi-
cians playing pieces from across
the eras. The program will include
celebratory works such as Festival
Variations by Claude T. Smith and
William Walton's Crown Imperial.
CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Brown
said the concerts that had been held
around the globe over the years
were renowned and the band was an
integral part of Air Force.
"As our Air Force Band cel-
ebrates 90 years, I am proud of the
role our musicians have in enriching
Air Force culture through the power
of music," he said.
"From a poignant bugler to a full
concert band, our band represents
Air Force to the world -- providing
music at ceremonial parades, enter-
taining our deployed airmen and
airwomen, and connecting with the
The history of the band dates
back to 1916 when there was a
camp orchestra at Point Cook. In
January 1923, a group of volunteer
airmen started to play together at
the base in an informal capacity, but
it was not until the first bandmaster
was appointed on August 20, 1923
that the band moved towards formal
It had taken six months for
the airmen to get the Air Board's
approval for "an expert instructor
to bring the band up to a musical
standard that would enable it to
take part in parades and ceremo-
nial occasions" and Hugh Niven,
a respected bandsman and cornet
soloist, then took up the top job.
Over the next few years the band
represented the Air Force at several
high-profile events, starting with
the arrival in Melbourne of Royal
Navy Special Services Squadron on
March 17, 1924; an aerial pageant
held by the Air Force at Flemington
Racecourse on December 13 of
that year; the official opening of
Parliament House in Canberra on
May 9, 1927; and, in 1928, the
arrival at Flemington of the much-
celebrated CAPT Bert Hinkler, who
had just flown the first solo flight
from England to Australia.
Local papers regularly mentioned
performances by the Air Force
"Orchestra" as well as its "famous"
seven-piece jazz band and, as early
as 1925, the band performed live
three-hour shows on 2LO and 3LO
radio stations in Melbourne.
Air Force Band CO SQNLDR
Mathew Shelley said community
engagement and ADF ceremonial
support remained a central part of
Air Force Band operations today.
"Just as the need to represent
Air Force with music and ceremony
was recognised all those years ago,
we strive today to enrich Air Force
culture through music and ceremony
and promote the Air Force's values
through the evocative and transform-
ative power of music," SQNLDR
Celebrating 90 Years of Air Force Music
concerts will be held on
August 21 at St Andrew's
Cathedral on George
Street, Sydney at 12.30pm,
and August 25 at Iwaki
Auditorium at the ABC
Southbank Centre on
Southbank Blvd, Melbourne,
at 3pm. Concerts are free
and have wheelchair access.
AEAs celebrate 30 years
CATCH-UP: From left,
OC 92WG GPCAPT Craig
Heap, WOFF Peter van
der Heiden, WGCDR
Greg Wells and SGT
Ben Newman attend
the airborne electronics
Inset, airborne electronics
analysts hard at work in
Photos: LACW Nicci Freeman
and CPL Glen McCarthy
FLTLT Gavin Briggs
WHEN about 100 current and for-
mer airborne electronics analysts
(AEA) gathered at RAAF Base
Edinburgh on June 28 to mark 30
years of the AEA mustering, a lot of
stories were told.
The youngest attendee at 24 was
Aerospace Operational Support
Group's SGT Ben Newman, of the
Joint Electronic Warfare Operational
"It was good to meet some of the
older generation of AEAs that had
retired before I even thought of join-
ing," SGT Newman said.
"Everyone had a good story and
it's good to know not much has
changed with friendly rivalry."
One of the older hands was
WOFF Peter van der Heiden who
started training in 1988.
"Of the 500 people who have
started AEA training about 360 have
graduated," he said.
"Seventy have left the Air Force
or have become reservists and 117
have taken commissions.
"AEAs and those who have
taken commissions hold positions
within a number of foreign embas-
sies and high commissions and our
most senior member, GPCAPT Phil
Champion, works at NATO HQ in
The mustering started in 1983
and in July this year course number
50 began training at 292SQN.
SGT Newman was on course 39
which graduated in December 2008.
He spoke positively about the
Orion, on which he has worked.
"The AP-3C is an incredible air-
craft, which most people don't real-
ise looking at it from the outside,"
"The sensors have undergone
countless upgrades and replacements
over the years to make a very capa-
ble aircraft -- even in modern terms.
Not bad considering our airframes
were built before I was born," he
"The aircraft is fun to work on,
albeit some days can be very long
-- my longest flight was just over 11
hours in the air."
SGT Newman said he enjoyed
the opportunities the role provided,
having deployed to the Middle East
He has also deployed to Malaysia
several times and in 2012 he
deployed to Okinawa in Japan for
a combined exercise with the US
military and Japanese Self Defense
"I would recommend the muster-
ing to anyone who likes this type of
variety -- you do a lot of travel as we
seem to be constantly on operations
these days," he said.
"The sense of adventure and
mateship with the crew is a big sell-
ing point for me."
Ninety years of music
IN TUNE: SQNLDR
Mathew Shelley and
SQN WOFF Attilio
Celata with today's
Air Force Band. Inset,
the original RAAF
Band at Point Cook
during the 1930s.
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