REPORT by Phil Buckley
RAAF Williams Air Base at Point Cook near Melbourne, Australia is the world’s oldest continually operated military airfield. The base hosted a once in lifetime event over the weekend of March 1st/2nd, celebrating both its 100th anniversary and the first official military flight in Australia.
The Australian Flying Corps formed in 1912 as a unit within the Australian Army. They looked to establish a flight training establishment, and created the Central Flying School in 1914 to provide Australia with its first military aviation unit. The evaluation committee chose to base the school in the area around the city of Melbourne and found that Point Cook would be ideal for the task. CFS operations got underway at 7:40am on March 1st, 1914 when a Bristol Boxkite took to the air for the inaugural flight. This tremulous first hop became the initial stepping stone on the road for the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1914, the only aircraft based at Point Cook were Bristol Boxkite and BE.2 biplane trainers. Both these fragile first generation types were the tip of spear for Australian air defense.
Point Cook and its military aviation unit were the basis for many important events over the next 100 years: WWI operations; the official creation of the Royal Australian Air Force as an independent air arm in 1921; peacetime development and expansion between the wars; the brutality of WWII and the Korean war; further expansion in 1950s; Australia’s oft forgotten heavy involvement in the Vietnam War; peace keeping operations; two Gulf Wars, etc. The RAAF is a small but powerful defense force undergoing further evolution and becoming a high tech, dynamic defense force.
These hundred years of Australian history deserved a fitting celebratory event, and culminated in the Centenary of Military Aviation Air Show held at Point Cook this March 1st/2nd. The well planned and interesting flying program saw the replica Boxkite flying both days. Nearly every Australian Defense Force aircraft type currently flying made an appearance. Civil and military heritage flight and civil owned warbird aircraft also flew, thus adding a unique chance for the public to see the massive advances in flight over the past 100years. The Australian Army and the Royal Australian Navy sent various helicopters as well.
Alongside the flying displays was a large ground display which kept the public interested. Many varied setups saw business exhibitors, static aircraft and various heritage museum displays in the halls. The RAAF were also represented by their air traffic control operators, communications specialists, ground/air defense, fire fighters, the RAAF band, military working dogs and the RAAF Museum displays.
The RAAF also took the opportunity at the airshow to officially launch their new service general purpose uniform. This new design is a blue/grey camouflage uniform which will replace the standard Auscam uniform, except in warzones.
I would like to thank the RAAF Public Affairs team for their generous support and help and more importantly, acknowledge the ADF members who gave their time to ensure this airshow was a success. From an aviation viewpoint, it would be wonderful to see Point Cook have a dedicated airshow on a regular basis so that the base’s history is kept alive.
More pictures from Phil Buckley and © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence
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