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September 26, 2013
officially thank the Air
Force for 40 years of
memories. Unofficially, his thanks
go back even earlier.
He grew up in the Newcastle
area where he says he frequently
saw jets flying overhead.
"They were mostly Mirages --
though I have vague memories of
Sabres," WGCDR Millington says.
"And a career with military
aircraft looked like a good way to
go."The day two Mirages chasing
each other overhead drowned out
the sound of his deputy headmas-
ter's tirade at a high school assem-
bly might have clinched the deal.
"I remember thinking 'that's
where I want to be'."
On August 28, the head of
Helicopter Systems Division in the
Defence Materiel Organisation,
RADM Tony Dalton, presented
WGCDR Millington with his fifth
clasp to the Defence Long Service
Medal -- Federation Star.
WGCDR Millington is now
the Commanding Officer of the
Material Management Unit in the
Army Aviation Systems Program
Office at Oakey on the Queensland
He was barely 18 when he
joined in 1973. His first application
was for the RAAF Academy but he
missed out on pilot aptitude testing
Millington was recently
awarded the fifth clasp
to his Federation Star,
John Martin reports.
Being part of a team at No. 2 Flight Training School (2FTS) where they flew Macchis at
an extremely high flying rate to achieve pilot graduation requirements, including more
than 100 sorties a day on a significant number of occasions (including night
Introducing the PC/9-A into 2FTS as the local project manager and
transferring the Macchis to 25SQN (later 79SQN).
Following the crash of Macchi A7-076 at Newcastle due to wing
fatigue (and subsequent grounding of the fleet with unserviceable/
out-of-life wing sets), regenerating the capability by arranging a
fast-track purchase of new wings from Italy.
Helping set up the Joint Logistics Systems Agency, which
later became the Logistics Systems Program Office, bringing
together elements from Air Force, Army and
Navy logistic and support commands under
Negotiating with Army and Navy
aviation engineering to get the Technical
Airworthiness Regulations 4 and 5 for
aviation maintenance activities agreed and
published in the Technical Airworthiness
Working as a reservist for the RAAF School
of Technical Training to take the Senior
Maintenance Manager (SMM) course for
aviation engineers in Air Force, Army and
Navy from infancy to maturity; creating
the SMM Ground (SMMG) for those in the
non-flying Air Force maintenance elements;
and creating the Warrant Officer Engineer
(WOE) course for technical warrant offic-
ers in Air Force, Army and Navy. The
SMMG and WOE courses were WGCDR
Millington's idea as a result of shortcom-
ings he saw. He was able to take them from
concept to maturity and leave them in capa-
ble hands when he transferred back to the
Permanent Air Force.
Being one of the few RAAF engineers to be responsible for mainte-
nance of a crash launch (23-metre wooden hull with twin V16 GM
diesel engines based at Townsville Harbour).
Sitting in the back of an Iroquois gunship from 9SQN doing live firing of guns and mis-
siles at High Range, west of Townsville.
Sitting in the back of a Kiowa during a night bombing exercise watching Australian
Mirages and Kiwi Skyhawks dive-bombing a hill under flares dropped from a Caribou
above, again at High Range.
Having a high/low navigation sortie in the back seat of a Mirage out of Townsville.
Flying around Papua New Guinea with 35SQN Caribous.
As the resident engineer in Perth, being in the back seat for numerous Macchi test
flights to monitor the instruments.
Enjoying a back seat ride in a PC/9-A as part of a flying course graduation massed
flypast of 21 aircraft in formation.
and was invited to consider train-
ing to be an aeronautical engineer,
based at RAAF Base Frognall in
the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
After his engineering studies,
he served in Melbourne (repair
and overhaul), then Townsville
(35SQN), Pearce (2FTS) before
returning to Melbourne where,
except for another three years in
Pearce to introduce the PC-9/A,
he was posted to various positions
until he transferred to the reserve
For more than 11 years
WGCDR Millington provided
valuable service managing and
developing the senior main-
tenance manager and warrant
officer engineering courses for
aviation elements of Air Force,
Army and Navy, as well as the sen-
ior maintenance manager ground
course for Air Force on behalf of
the RAAF School of Technical
During his reserve years, he also
completed an honours degree in
WGCDR Millington transferred
back to the Permanent Air Force
(PAF) in mid-2011 and was posted
to his current position at Oakey.
"I was pretty naive when I
joined so I expected to be on flying
squadron bases a lot more," he says.
"I also didn't realise I'd never
be posted to Newcastle (or even
NSW), despite many attempts to
"Nevertheless, once I came to
get a realistic understanding of an
Air Force engineer's career, I'd say
I've had a pretty good one."
WGCDR Millington says he
never expected to clock up 40
It was not even possible when
the previous compulsory retirement
age was 55.
"The increase of PAF compul-
sory retirement age to 60 not only
gave me opportunity to transfer
back to PAF but to reach the
unexpected 40-year mark," he says.
As you'd expect, WGCDR
Millington has enjoyed quite a
number of highlights over such a
He puts them in two categories
-- experiential and career.
"Experiential are those things
that I have experienced that only
few will enjoy," he says.
"From reading them it may
sound like all I've done is fly
around in the back of aircraft and,
while I recall those events with
pleasure, I get equally as much
pleasure from what I have achieved
over my career."
40 YEARS OF TREASURES: WGCDR Steve Millington with his original
enlistment paperwork and a congratulatory letter from CAF AIRMSHL Geoff
Brown, which says: "This is both a significant personal and professional
achievement and places you in a very small and elite group of individuals".
START OF A MEMORABLE
CAREER: WGCDR Steve
Millington as a first-year cadet.
ONE HIGHLIGHT: WGCDR Steve Millington enjoyed flying with
35SQN Caribous in PNG in 1982.
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