Yesterday’s Caribou meets today’s Spartan

In a unique event, historical aircraft DHC-4 Caribou A4-236 was displayed beside a C-27J Spartan from 35 Squadron during a family day at RAAF Base Amberley on October 21.

CAPTIONA DHC-4 Caribou aircraft, left, sits beside a C-27J Spartan aircraft from 35 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. Story and photo by Flight Lieutenant Karyn Markwell

Commanding Officer 35 Squadron Wing Commander David Torrington said involving the Caribou in the event presented an opportunity to educate the workforce on the role it played in Air Force’s history.

“A significant portion of 35 Squadron’s history involved flying the Caribou in Vietnam and so we thought it was important to acknowledge that history,” Wing Commander Torrington said.

“We wanted to make our family day as engaging as possible by involving as much of 35 Squadron as possible, both past and present.”

Caribou A4-236 began its Air Force career in 1965. After the Vietnam War, it served with 38 Squadron on humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations in NSW in 1990, Timor-Leste (East Timor) in 1999 and the Solomon Islands from 2003 to 2004.

History and Heritage – Air Force restored Caribou A4-236 in 2021–22. The aircraft is usually on display at the Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre.

Director General History and Heritage – Air Force Air Commodore Robert Lawson said they were pleased to have provided the Caribou for display with the Spartans for the 35 Squadron event.

“Displaying the two aircraft types together marks a proud tradition of hard work and operational effectiveness, which continues today with the C-27J Spartan,” Air Commodore Lawson said.

Air Force operated 29 Caribou aircraft between 1964 and 2009. They were greatly valued as a flexible air mobility aircraft capable of airdrop, airlift and operating from improvised and unsurfaced runways – just like today’s Spartans.

Personnel from 35 Squadron welcomed about 600 family members and friends on their family day, with around 200 experiencing a flight in a Spartan.


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