Cessna Skyhawk Air Experience, Part 3

Late last year, Air Force Cadets from Adelaide’s northern squadrons had the opportunity to enjoy a Cadet Air Experience (CAE) flight from Gawler airfield.

CAPTIONLCDT Tom Shaw (No 608 Squadron) prepares for a cadet air experience flight from Gawler Airfield in an ‘N’-model Cessna Skyhawk C172 ‘VH-CEY’ operated by Adelaide Biplanes.

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One of the participants was Leading Cadet Tom Shaw from No 608 (Town of Gawler) Squadron, who flew in an N-model Cessna Skyhawk C172 (‘VH-CEY’), a conventional tricycle configuration trainer used to train recreational pilots. On their website, Adelaide Biplanes calls this aircraft: “a tribute to the durability of the aeroplane that Clyde Cessna designed & built all those years ago”.

Although he has completed just one year in the AAFC, Leading Cadet Shaw has an extensive military background driving his ambitions.

Leading Cadet Shaw told the Public Affairs & Communication Officer for Aviation Operations Wing, Flying Officer (AAFC) Paul Rosenzweig: “I really appreciate the military record of service in my family and I want to continue that tradition”.

With Tom at Gawler airfield was his father Clayton, who served in the RAAF for eleven years as a Communications Information Systems Controller, with postings in Glenbrook and Tindal. Clayton also worked with Defence Recruiting at both Brisbane and Parramatta, and attained the rank of Corporal.

Tom’s grandfather Murray Fitzgerald Shaw also had Air Force service: he enlisted on 26 September 1966, and served for a total of 23 years. This included a twelve month stint in South Vietnam attached to 2 Squadron operating from Phan Rang Airbase, from 4 December 1967 to 4 December 1968.

Phan Rang Airbase is notable for having been built by the Imperial Japanese Army (1942), used by the French Air Force during the First Indochina War (until 1954), rebuilt by the United States in 1965 for use by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and the US Air Force during the Vietnam War (II Corps Tactical Zone), and operated by the Vietnam People’s Air Force since April 1975.

Northern squadron air experience participants at Gawler Airfield (left to right): LCDT James Chant, CDT Zac Baker, CDT Lorry Bonnett, LCDT Tom Shaw, LCDT Kira Scott-Halliday and CSGT Chevvy Dolan.
Northern squadron air experience participants at Gawler Airfield (left to right): LCDT James Chant, CDT Zac Baker, CDT Lorry Bonnett, LCDT Tom Shaw, LCDT Kira Scott-Halliday and CSGT Chevvy Dolan.

Murray Shaw was involved in the clean-up effort in Darwin following Cyclone Tracy, and held the rank of Corporal on his discharge. His period of service overlapped with his son’s by two years.

On the completion of his service he held the Vietnam Medal, Defence Force Service Medal with 1st Clasp, National Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He also received the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.

In addition to this background, Tom’s father had a great-uncle who served in France during World War 1: 37917 Joseph Brian Fitzgerald Shaw from Muswellbrook, NSW. Brian Shaw enlisted in the Australian imperial Force as a Gunner on 12 March 1917 aged 18, after having served in the senior cadets for four years. He served overseas with the 39th Battery, 10th Field Artillery Brigade with the rank of Corporal.

With a background like this, it is little surprise that Tom Shaw is himself in a AAFC uniform, working towards a career in Defence.

Of his cadet air experience, Leading Cadet Shaw said: “I feel very lucky to have had the experience of flying in a plane like that”.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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