Australia's first Aboriginal fighter pilot

14 Nov 1944

After joining the RAAF in August 1942 and serving as an aircraft mechanic, Len Waters applied for pilot training. Among the top five in his course at No 5 Service Flying Training School at Uranquinty, New South Wales, he graduated as a sergeant pilot. He completed an operational conversion course on the P-40 Kittyhawk with No 2 Operational Training Unit at Mildura, Victoria, at the end of which he was posted to No 78 Squadron on this day. Waters thus became Australia’s first (and only) Aboriginal fighter pilot. While serving with 78 Squadron at Noemfoor (West New Guinea), Morotai (Netherlands East Indies) and Tarakan (Borneo), he flew 95 sorties; as the Japanese had few aircraft in these areas by this stage, his missions did not entail air combat. Promoted to Flight Sergeant in January 1945, he became a Warrant Officer 17 days before discharge in January 1946.