Flying Officer (retd) John ‘Blue’ Bailey, a former 25 Squadron pilot, celebrated his 100th birthday with a special visit to Royal Australian Air Force base Pearce on December 8.
CAPTION: Flying Officer (retd) John ‘Blue’ Bailey, left, and Commanding Officer of 25 Squadron Wing Commander Paul Taylor pose in a world war jeep replica at RAAF Pearce. Story by Peta Magorian. Photo by Squadron Leader Roger Buddrige.
Blue enlisted in the RAAF to serve during World War 2 and his first logged flight was August 23, 1941.
On completion of pilot training, Blue was posted to 25 Squadron RAAF Pearce where he was assigned to search for HMAS Sydney after its encounter with the German raider Kormoran off the Western Australian coast in November 1941.
Following conversion to Kittyhawk’s, Blue was posted to 75 Squadron where he flew more than 70 combat missions throughout New Guinea.
Blue lives in Medow Springs Retirement Village in Mandurah and enjoys spending time with his family and friends.
To celebrate his birthday, the Commanding Officer of 25 Squadron, Wing Commander Paul Taylor, invited Blue and his family to visit the base.
“With Blue having his 100th birthday, being a former member of 25 Squadron, and having flown at Pearce 81 years before the graduating pilots course, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to honour Blue’s service to his country and to give him and his family a chance to see how much things have changed since Blue was last at Pearce,” Wing Commander Taylor said.
Blue was chauffeured by former Warrant Officer Ian Griffiths, in a 1942 ‘Willys’ Jeep, which was used in New Guinea and Darwin during World War 2. He was accompanied by his sons, Kevin and Ian, his daughter, Robyn, and granddaughter, Sarah, as well as his friend, Warrant Officer (retd) John McDonald, a former Spitfire pilot.
The guests were provided a tour of the base, meet and greet with the newest graduates from Number 2 Flying Training School’s 268 pilot’s course, a tour of the Hawk 127 simulator at 79 Squadron, and a base birthday party, where members of the base sang Happy Birthday before presenting Blue with a cake and gifts.
Blue enjoyed spending time with the serving members at RAAF Pearce and was fascinated by the modern technical aids available to the flying schools.
“Isn’t it marvellous? All this technology just to learn how to fly. In my day we had none of this,” Blue said.
Blue shared his experiences as he watched his granddaughter experience flight in the Hawk 127 simulator.