The team of RAAF pilots behind the centenary flypast in Canberra last year have been awarded one of the industry’s most prestigious accolades.
The group, led by group captain Tim Sloane, won the Grand Master’s Australian Medal, which was granted by The Honourable Company of Air Pilots.
The flypast itself included 60 warbirds and modern aircraft that flew in waves over Lake Burley Griffin. Aircraft involved included the Spitfire, Caribou, C-130J, F/A-18 Hornet and the F-35A Lightning II.
Sloane said planning for the event required substantial and complex efforts over a period of nine months.
“Flight paths, holding patterns and timing gates were developed by the team to ensure a seamless and safe display was achieved,” Group Captain Sloane said.
“The display aircraft were supported by air-to-air refuelling assets and a coordinating airborne early warning and control aircraft.
“Organisation and execution of the event was not without challenges. Because of the fluid COVID-19 restrictions, several team members spent some time in quarantine and were therefore required to continue their work remotely.”
The other winners included Squadron Leaders Jason Gamlin, Christopher Rogers, A/Squadron Leader James Denton and Flight Sergeant Tim Muehlberg.
The Honourable Company of Air Pilots was described by the late Duke of Edinburgh as a “unique organisation” because its upper membership is restricted to qualified pilots and navigators.
It aims to bring together the views and ideas of people who control aircraft in the air, but without being a lobby or pressure group.
Australian Aviation broke down the flypast in detail before the event, which you can read here.
The Australian Air Force was formed 101 years ago, and five months after its inception, a Royal designation was added to create the Royal Australian Air Force.
It was only the second “Royal” air arm in the British Commonwealth, following the formation of the RAF.
It comes after Australian Aviation reported in March how the RAAF dedicated a new memorial in honour of the 350,000 Australians who have served in Air Force since its inception, including the 11,191 Australians who died while serving their country.
The new Air Force Centenary Memorial, based at RAAF Base Williams in Point Cook, Melbourne, was opened on Wednesday, marking the final instalment and formal conclusion of Air Force’s Centenary program.
The then-Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, said, “This memorial stands at the birthplace of the Royal Australian Air Force, as a tribute to the generations of Australians who have proudly worn the Air Force uniform.
“For more than 100 years, Air Force people have displayed courage, resilience, strength and humanity and given so much to protect the freedom we cherish today.”