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August 29, 2013
WO2 Andrew Hetherington
"I WAS gobsmacked and tears came to
my eyes when I found out I'd received
it," said William "Crash" Cradock after
receiving his Air Force Australian Public
Service (APS) team member of the year
award for 2012.
The armament test engineer with the
Aircraft Stores Compatibility Engineering
Squadron, based at RAAF Base Edinburgh,
began his association with the Air Force
in 1971 when he joined as an apprentice
During his career in uniform he worked
his way up to the rank of sergeant before
discharging in 1995. In 1997 he joined the
APS working in a number of roles, until
2006 when he was offered the sought-after
role he now fulfils.
"At our unit we integrate and test weap-
ons systems and stores for all ADF aircraft,
which includes fuel tanks, missiles, guns,
bombs, torpedoes and flares," Mr Cradock
"It's a fun job and I'm sort of the 'go
to' man at the unit -- people come to me
for information or advice because of my
Mr Cradock has worked with a large
number of differing aircraft in his career,
comprising most of the modern aviation
inventory of the ADF, but it was his work
with the AP-3C Orion and ARH Tiger that
gave Air Force reason to present the award
on July 5.
"The work I did on the Orions was on
the safety and suitability testing for the
flares they carry," Mr Cradock said.
"We didn't have vibration testing data
on them, so I organised from scratch how
to test the flares by using a vibration table
to determine if they would be safe and
work in the Middle East.
"With the Tiger project I discovered
a number of practise rocket warheads
stored somewhere in the Air Force system
and, after we tested them, I worked out
they would be compatible for use with
WELL DESERVED: Armament
test engineer William "Crash"
Photo: CPL Colin Dadd
Award moves test
engineer to tears
SGT Dave Morley
A CEREMONY to mark the 23rd anni-
versary of the loss of a popular CO in a
mid-air collision was held near RAAF
Base Tindal on August 2.
WGCDR Ross Fox died after two
75SQN F/A-18 Hornets collided at
about 30,000 feet in 1990.
The other pilot, FLGOFF David
Smith, was able to land safely at
Tindal; however, WGCDR Fox's air-
craft crashed about 40km north-west of
Tindal at Hornet Hill.
CO 75SQN WGCDR Pete Mitchell
said it was important the current
Magpies (75SQN members) remem-
bered the ultimate sacrifice by WGCDR
"It is our duty to remember his sac-
rifice, not just because he was the CO,
but also because of the values and cour-
age of 75SQN that he displayed and
represented," WGCDR Mitchell said.
"It was an honour and a privilege to
have two 75SQN members who were in
the squadron at the time of the incident
at the memorial service.
"WGCDR Justin Cockroft was an
armament technician at the time and
SGT Max Magee was a junior avionics
SGT Magee, now a reservist based
at Tindal, remembers the terrible day
"I was working flightline that day
when the flightline supervisor of the
day took us aside and informed us there
had been an air incident and our jet had
been involved," he said.
"Our jet had already landed and had
been towed to one of the hangars.
"Later I was told the CO, WGCDR
Fox, had been involved and had
crashed. I was shocked."
SGT Magee said he was involved in
the search for wreckage.
"In the following days it was con-
firmed the CO had not survived the
SGT Magee said 75SQN members
"To lose a member of such a close-
knit community is a blow but when it is
the CO it affects everyone from the top
down," he said.
"He made it a point of knowing the
names of each of the squadron mem-
bers. He always had time to talk to you
and was genuinely interested in how
everyone was doing."
Magpies remember CO
PAYING TRIBUTE: CO 75SQN WGCDR Pete Mitchell, centre, pays his
respects with SGT Max Magee, left, and WGCDR Justin Cockroft who were
both with 75SQN at the time of the crash. Inset, 75SQN members at the
memorial to WGCDR Ross Fox at Hornet Hill. Photos: LAC Terry Hartin
Mr Cradock said that, throughout
his career, he's had a thirst for knowl-
edge, which had him spending a lot of
time sitting and studying inside vari-
"I remember when the Air Force
first got the Hornets, I would sit in the
cockpit for up to four hours at a time
and feed numbers into the displays
to ensure everything worked as it
should," he said.
"When a pilot walked in and said
'I'm not getting this on the display', I
sort of had a fair idea where to go to
solve the problem.
"I was gaining buckets of informa-
tion -- it was unbelievable and even
now it sometimes shocks me what
questions I can answer."
So what advice does an award-win-
ning Defence APS team member give
to fellow civilians working in Defence,
who don't think their efforts are being
"Keep at it and someone will, even-
tually, pick up that you are doing a
good job and reward you accordingly."
The Air Force APS team member
of the year award recognises a person
who exemplifies both the APS and
Air Force Values and who has made
an outstanding contribution to the Air
ON AUGUST 2, 1990 a mid-air collision between two 75SQN F/A-18 Hornets at
about 30,000 feet resulted in the tragic death of the then-CO WGCDR Ross Fox,
aged 39. WGCDR Fox died instantly as a result of the collision, which resulted in
the outer portion of FLGOFF David Smith's aircraft port wing slicing through the
forward fuselage of WGCDR Fox's aircraft. FLGOFF Smith was able to land safely at
Tindal; however, WGCDR Fox's aircraft crashed about 40km north-west of Tindal at
a place ironically called Hornet Hill.
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