Spectacular end to first 100 years

The roar of jet engines shook the nation’s capital as more than 60 past and present aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force flew over Canberra on March 31 to mark the service’s centenary.

CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force veteran Mr Alan Sullivan takes photos of Royal Australian Air Force aircraft flying over Rond Terrace, Canberra during the Air Force 2021 Centenary flyover. Photo by Cpl David Said.

The latest F-35A fighters and F/A-18F Super Hornets loudly announced themselves before flying over Government House and Lake Burley Griffin.

Giant C-17 Globemaster transports, high-tech P-8A Poseidons and E-7A Wedgetails also appeared overhead.

Air Force’s World War II-era aircraft weren’t forgotten, with the iconic Spitfire and Kittyhawk fighters, a Catalina flying boat and a Dakota transport also taking part in the flypast.

A 14-minute display by the Air Force aerobatics team, the Roulettes, provided a spectacular finale to the aerial display.

Defence Personnel Minister Darren Chester attended a centenary event at Government House, along with special guest 100-year-old Air Force veteran John Cockburn.

Mr Chester said the centenary commemorations recognised the 350,000 people who have served in the Air Force and he thanked those who continued to do so.

“One thing that is consistent right across Air Force is the incredible amount of professionalism and commitment to service, and today we say thank you for your service and we wish Air Force a happy 100th birthday,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester grew up in the flight path of RAAF Base East Sale, and has seen the Roulettes fly regularly.

“There is one thing about the Air Force, they can organise a very good flyover,” he said.

“To see the aircraft from previous generations and then to see the modern aircraft flying in the skies above Canberra was very special.”

Before the flypast, Governor-General General (retd) David Hurley presented Air Force with a new Queen’s Colour during a parade at Government House.

It replaced an older colour presented by the Queen in 1986.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld said colours were the embodiment of service traditions, achievements and history.

“Since the earliest times, warriors have carried standards or flags as a distinguishing mark and to serve as a rallying point during battle,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“Although they are no longer carried into combat, all the colours of the Australian Defence Force hold a revered position of honour.”

He said the new colour would represent the dedication and sacrifice made to ensure Australia’s security.

“Let it also lay a marker for the Air Force that we are today and will be into the future,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“The Air Force represented by our new colour today is ready to meet any emerging challenges our nation encounters.

“All who proudly serve in Air Force carry a deep sense of duty to our nation and will serve to safeguard its future for the generations that will follow us.”

The centenary commemorations began with a flag-raising ceremony by ADFA cadets at Commonwealth Place in Canberra followed by another overseen by Warrant Officer of the Air Force Fiona Grasby at Defence headquarters in Russell.

The birthday concluded with the Last Post ceremony at the Australian War Memorial, which was dedicated to Air Force sergeant the late William Godley.

Sergeant Godley was born in India on March 31, 1921, sharing his birthday with the Air Force.

He joined the Air Force in 1940 and became an air gunner.

He was later attached to the Royal Air Force’s No. 14 Squadron as a wireless operator/air gunner on Bristol Blenheim light bombers in the Middle East.

On March 17, 1942, the aircraft he was flying in circled a landing ground during an operational flight near Bahariya, Egypt.

The aircraft collided with another Blenheim, crashed and burst into flames.

Both crews were killed.

Sergeant Godley was aged 21.

CAPTION: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester presents 100-year-old Air Force veteran John Cockburn, and his granddaughter Ashleigh Cockburn, with an Air Force 2021 commemorative memento at Government House, Canberra. Photo by Lauren Larking.





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