60 years young

For 60 years our beloved service newspaper has played a vital role, keeping airman and airwomen informed, educated, and to showcase our Air Force. 

"Air Force News remains as relevant today as it always has been, as the primary vehicle to communicate recruits about careers within Air Force and the wider ADF. The move into more online integration continues to reinforce that role in the information age. From the women and men of Air Command, Happy Birthday Air Force News, we wish you all the best for the next 60 years," Air Vice-Marshal Joe Iervasi, Air Commander Australia.

"Happy 60th birthday Air Force News. Thanks for continuing to share the great work of our airmen and airwomen. I remember my first photo in Air Force News - I was on Exercise Blackbird in New Zealand in the early 80s and the photographer got a shot of me sitting on top of a helicopter fixing an aerial. It was great when I saw it appear in the newspaper," WOFF-AF Rob Swanwick, Warrant Officer of the Air Force.


As Air Force News celebrates its 60th birthday, Sergeant Dave Morley takes a look back at some of the stories that made the pages over the past 60 years.


Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1960

A-A Missiles Soon

Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for the RAAF’s two Sabre squadrons in Malaya will be flown direct to Butterworth from the US. 

“Sidewinders will increase enormously the operational effectiveness of the Australian-built Sabres,” Air Minister Osborne said. 

Vol. 2, No. 10, October 1960

First RAAF Hercules jump

First parachute jump from a Hercules aircraft was made on September 29 at Williamtown. The parachutist was Squadron Leader Jack Neilson, chief instructor of the Parachute Training Flight. 

Squadron Leader Neilson and six instructors who jumped after him used an American parachute designed specially for use with fast transport aircraft such as the Hercules. 

The drop was made over Salt Ash, 9 miles north of Williamtown, from a height of 1250 feet (381m). 

Vol. 4, No. 8, September 1962


Universal sympathy has gone to the relatives of the RAAF members killed at East Sale on August 15. 

Six officers lost their lives when four Vampires of an aerobatics team struck the ground about eight miles from the base. 

Vol. 7, No. 7, August 1965

Hercules fly out wounded

The RAAF had begun aeromedical evacuation of Australian Army casualties of the fighting in Vietnam. 

Announcing the acceptance by the RAAF of this responsibility, Minister for Air Peter Howson said the main method of evacuating casualties would be by regular Hercules transport couriers. 


Vol. 14, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1972

They’re home

The war is over and the gunships come home. 

Settling down on home ground after years of war in a foreign land, these helicopters of No. 9 Squadron RAAF look like wasps with a sting in their tail. 

Vol. 17, No. 8, September 1975

RAAF busy in Timor relief

When this edition went to press, a Caribou of No. 38 Squadron was making almost daily flights from Darwin to Timor with Red Cross supplies. 

RAAF markings were removed and Red Cross markings were painted on the wings and fuselage. 

On September 4, for the first time in RAAF history, an aircraft crew was threatened and forced to carry unscheduled passengers. 

A Caribou, which had flown Red Cross supplies into Baucau, was approached by an armed Timorese soldier who forced the crew to take on scores of refugees, mostly women and children, and fly them to Darwin. 

Vol. 19, No. 4, May 1977

Night mercy mission flight

A pilot, two crewmen and a RAAF doctor were injured when a RAAF Iroquois helicopter crashed during a mercy flight in the High Range area, near Townsville, on April 20. 

The No. 35 Squadron aircraft had been tasked to evacuate a soldier suffering from a suspected snake bite. 

Flight Lieutenant Ken Webb, crewmen Corporals Peter Inglis and Edward Maxwell and RAAF medical officer, Flight Lieutenant Peter Lawson. 
The co-pilot, Pilot Officer (now Air Commodore) Christopher Sawade, escaped with minor cuts. 


Vol. 29, No. 9, October 1987

End of an era for 9 Squadron

After 25 years association with the type, 9 Squadron, based at Amberley, has farewelled its last Iroquois helicopters. 

The last four machines left Amberley on August 26 and are now serving with 35 Squadron at Townsville. 

The next few months will be busy for 9 Squadron as it prepares for the arrival of the RAAF’s new Sikorsky Black Hawks, which promise to have just as an illustrious career as the ‘Hueys’. 

Vol. 30, No. 1, Jan/Feb 1988

PC-9 Joins RAAF

In a ceremony held at the Hawker de Havilland plant at Bankstown, Sydney, in mid-December, the Defence Minister Kim Beazley, on behalf of the RAAF, took delivery of the first Australian-built PC-9/A trainer aircraft. 

They are the first of 65 to be delivered to the RAAF. 

The new trainer is very impressive and has similar performance to the famous Mustang. 

Vol. 31, No. 10, November 1989

RAAF helps out in air dispute

During the extended domestic airline pilots’ dispute, the travelling public have had the rare opportunity of sampling life aboard RAAF transport – Hercules, HS748s and Boeing 707. Gratitude and good humour have been ingredients in large supply – gratitude on the part of passengers who feared they would not make their destinations, good humour on the parts of both crew and passengers dealing with a unique situation. 


Vol. 33, No. 1, Jan/Feb 1991

Gulf standby

Just hours before the world media reported the first air attacks on Baghdad after tension in the Middle East erupted on January 17, two Hercules from 37 Squadron and a 33 Squadron B707 took off from Richmond in the black pre-dawn hours on January 16. 

The Hercules were bound for Cocos Island and the B707 for Nicosia in Cyprus. 

Their task was to pre-position and wait for the word to fly further into pre-planned transit points in the Middle East to evacuate Australian citizens out of the conflict area. 

Vol. 38, No. 11, December 1996

It’s the Hawk!

Contract signing in May next year with the first aircraft delivered in 1999 is the projected timeframe for introduction into RAAF service of the Hawk Lead-in Fighter. 

Subject to ‘potential supplier’ negotiations with BAE, which will finalise detailed project aspects, the Air Force will boast between 30 and 40 new Hawks to replace the ageing Macchis, which have remained in service since the 1960s. 

Vol. 39, No. 9, October 1997

RAAF News quietly becomes Air Force News with no mention other than a new banner. 


Vol. 45, No. 4, March 25, 2003

Our Task

In the Air Force’s most momentous actions since the Vietnam War, F/A-18 Hornets have flown combat missions over Iraq, guarding coalition air-to-air refuellers and early warning aircraft. 

Flying defensive counter-air operations, the Hornets’ missions have lasted between five and six hours and taken them deep inside Iraqi territory. 

Vol. 48, No. 5, April 6, 2006

Smack, bang, gone

North Korean drug ship sinks to a watery grave after being destroyed by laser-guided bombs. 

With a bang and a flash it was all over – the smoking hull was left to slip beneath the waters when two F-111s were put to task for the Australian Federal Police last month. 

Sinking the North Korean drug ship Pong Su provided 82 Wing and 1 Squadron personnel with training opportunities in the planning and execution of maritime strike missions. 

Vol. 51, No. 14, August 6, 2009

Magpie 91 crew coming home

A successful, but sad, answer to an almost 40-year mystery was solved when human remains were found in Vietnam at the site of 2 Squadron’s lost Canberra bomber, A84-231. 

Forensic examination of the remains concluded they were those of its crew, Flying Officer Michael Herbert and Pilot Officer Robert Carver, who were the last Australian servicemen missing from the Vietnam War. 

On November 3, 1970, the Canberra, callsign Magpie 91, disappeared on its return to base at Phan Rang in South Vietnam after a bombing mission. 

With the return of Flying Officer Herbert and Pilot Officer Carver, another chapter of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam is closed, with all personnel who fought in that war now accounted for. 


Vol. 52, No. 9, May 27, 2010

Flying to the rescue

In a dramatic rescue, an 11 Squadron crew, deployed to the MEAO, has played a key role in resolving a pirate attack on a Russian-flagged oil tanker. 

On May 5, a distress call was issued from a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden and the AP-3C Orion crew was reassigned from another mission and tasked to see if the ship’s crew was in difficulty. 

The AP-3C’s long-range cameras helped to confirm pirates had stormed the vessel. 

Vol. 54, No. 1, February 2, 2012

Making us proud in the Sinai – Mazurka deployment marks first for Air Force

When Sergeant Jodi Ross deployed to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, she achieved a small piece of history for Air Force. 

She is the first Air Force member to be attached to the Multinational Force and Observers group since Australia withdrew aviation support in the 1980s. 

Vol. 57, No. 7, May 7, 2015

F-35A pilot qualifies

Australia’s first F-35A Lightning II pilot is now qualified. 

Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson made his final training mission on April 23 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, US. 

Vol. 58, No. 3, March 10, 2016

Fiji Assist brings out the best

Air Force has conquered new territory by delivering Army’s MRH-90 helicopters on a C-17A Globemaster in a rapid response to Operation Fiji Assist. 

An Air Force C-17A loaded with a MRH-90 helicopter landed at Suva airport as part of JTF635. 


Browse past editions of Air Force News.