Australian Air Force Cadets from Adelaide’s northern squadrons were recently given the opportunity to fly a Trial Instructional Flight – what the AAFC calls a Pilot Experience Flight (PEX).
CAPTION: Cadet Corporal Anthony Sanchez from No 604 Squadron AAFC undertakes a PEX flight in a Tobago TB10 with pilot Derek Alvarez from Flight Training Adelaide. Photo by Pilot Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig
A total of 30 future pilots took this free opportunity to fly a Tobago TB10 from Parafield Airport, and were awarded certificates by the service provider, Flight Training Adelaide.
One of the Air Force Cadets who took up this opportunity honoured her great-grandfather in doing so, just as she had three weeks prior during the Anzac Eve Youth Vigil in Gawler and as a member of the Catafalque Party for the Gawler Anzac Dawn Service.
Courtney Semmler’s maternal great-grandfather Laurence Vivian Wotzko (1911-1942) was an Aircraftman (Flight Rigger) with No 2 Squadron RAAF on the outbreak of World War 2.
He re-mustered as an Airman Pilot and was ultimately commissioned.
And, most notably, Flying Officer Wotzko was a Flying Instructor at No 1 Elementary Flying Training School (1EFTS) at Parafield Airfield between 1 December 1940 and 16 May 1942 – where his great granddaughter Courtney took her first flight.
Parafield Control Tower was built in 1940 and is a fine example of art deco architecture from that era. This Airservices Australia Control Tower still provides air traffic control functions for Parafield Airport (YPPF) today.
From this same tower 75 years later, Laurie Wotzko’s great-grand-daughter, a Cadet Corporal in the Australian Air Force Cadets and a Gold Award participant with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, received her clearance to depart on her Pilot Experience Flight.
Quite appropriately, it was Mother’s Day – and she flew in tribute to both her great-grandfather and also her Nanna, Laurie Wotzko’s only daughter, who had been born on 3 April 1942 and was aged just 4 months when her father died in a flying accident.
From 1EFTS, Laurie Wotzko briefly served at Tamworth, and then returned to SA on 8 June 1942 as a Flying Instructor with No 6 Service Flying Training School at Mallala.
Tragically, he and seven other airmen died in a training accident southeast of Murray Bridge on 4 August 1942 when two Avro Anson aircrew trainers collided during a daytime training exercise and crashed into the Murray River near Monteith.
The deaths were classed as operational, and the names of the eight men are honoured in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial under the title ‘Air Training Schools’ (panels 115, 116 and 117).
Flying Officer Wotzko’s name is also included on the Sydney Memorial, and on the Adelaide WW2 Roll of Honour beside the South Australian National War Memorial on North Terrace.
Flying Officer Wotzko’s war service in Australia was recognised by the award of the War Medal 1939-1945 and Australia Service Medal 1939-1945. His widow Mrs Mavis Wotzko received the silver Mothers’ and Widows’ Badge from the Commonwealth Government, with a bronze star to denote the death of her husband whilst on service.
Pilot Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig, 6 Wing Public Affairs & Communication Officer, said, “We carve names on Cenotaphs and Honour Rolls to mark the sacrifice of the fallen. But the true legacy of our Service personnel is that which is etched into the minds of others through the stories we share about them. A person is never truly dead while we still remember them”.
Lest we Forget.