From rubbing shoulders with royalty and former prime ministers, to pioneering work on aircraft, Warrant Officer Ian ‘Blue’ Macgregor has called time on his 50 years of service in the Royal Australian Air Force – a magnificent career spanning close to half of the RAAF’s existence.
CAPTION: Warrant Officer Ian ‘Blue’ Macgregor, Simulator Project Manager from 37 Squadron, RAAF Base Richmond, NSW. Story by Flying Officer Madeleine Magee. Photo by Corporal John Solomon.
On January 8, 1974, 15-year-old ‘Blue’ from Western Australia joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a radio apprentice, never expecting his career to take him on the journey of half a century.
“I have always been very proud to wear the uniform and be part of the Air Force. That’s the sad part, to leave all that behind,” Warrant Officer Macgregor said.
“To be a 15-year-old kid from WA, who had never been on an airplane, flying in a big 727 to Melbourne and joining with 32 other boys, I was just over the moon. It was fantastic.”
After completing his apprenticeship at RAAF Base Laverton, Warrant Officer Macgregor was posted to RAAF Base Richmond as a radio technician at 2 Aircraft Depot.
A chance meeting with a flight engineer at a base cricket tournament ignited a new passion, and in 1982, Warrant Officer Macgregor retrained as a flight engineer on the then brand new C-130H Hercules aircraft and later 33 Squadron’s Boeing 707.
CAPTION: An archived still of Warrant Officer ‘Blue’ Macgregor.
During his time on both aircraft, Warrant Officer Macgregor transported many famous figures including former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, the late HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and Pope John Paul II’s Pope-mobile.
Following the crash of a Boeing 707 in 1991, Warrant Officer Macgregor began working on analysing and rewriting the operating procedures of aircraft and creating new ways to train aircraft operators in flight simulators. For his dedication to aircraft safety, he was awarded the Order of Australia for meritorious service and a Pathfinder’s Award for Excellence within Air Mobility Group.
Since 2006, as a reservist and APS member, Warrant Officer Macgregor has continued his work with flight simulators as the Simulator Logistics Manager responsible for the through life support of aircraft simulators.
More recently, Warrant Officer Macgregor had a vital role in developing a new capability in the C-130J Hercules simulator in cooperation with Australia’s allied partners.
When asked to give advice to young aviators, Warrant Officer Macgregor said, “Enjoy the journey”.
“Make your hobby your vocation and you won’t work a day in your life. I’ve felt that. I’ve been paid to learn, travel and have fun for the past 50 years,” he said.
Warrant Officer Macgregor will continue to dedicate his time to the local Hawkesbury community by volunteering at the Hawkesbury Community Kitchen as well as Windsor RSL sub branch.