The year is 1979 and a young Gavin ‘Leo’ Davies joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a cadet navigator.
He had always wanted to fly as a pilot since learning about it when he was in primary school; he never let go of his dream. On graduation from his initial training, he flew with No. 11 Squadron (11SQN) on P-3 Orions.
“I joined the Air Force because of the professionalism and skill-set required to fly.
“I have always remembered the value of teamwork from my time in 11SQN, and the effect of our small RAAF on the world stage,” he said.
By 1987, he finally got the opportunity to fly as a pilot, not the navigator. Flight Lieutenant Davies completed his pilot training and F-111 conversion course, and posted to No. 1 Squadron (1SQN) at RAAF Base Amberley to fly the F-111, fondly known as the ‘Pig’.
“Flying the F-111 was a real role for the time; we flew faster than anyone else and it was a team cockpit – and no phone calls while we were airborne,” he said.
Throughout his career, he continued to return to 1SQN with postings in between to headquarters and wing roles, as well as an exchange posting with the United States Air Force.
By 2002, Wing Commander Davies returned to 1SQN as the CO, achieving 2000 flying hours in the F-111, and then accepted the challenge as the Staff Officer to the Chief of Air Force (SOCAF) in 2004.
“When I was SOCAF, the highlight for me was seeing a strategic headquarters at work, which was different from my previous roles,” he said.
Following a number of headquarters, deployed and international postings, Air-Vice Marshal Davies was appointed the Deputy Chief of Air Force in 2012, and promoted to Air Marshal in July 2015, on appointment as Chief of Air Force.
Air Marshal Davies has also continued to support a number of charity initiatives throughout his career including critical blood donations for the Red Cross and the Long Ride, building awareness for men’s health issues.
“My mother suffered through multiple myeloma and I think we should all try to give back in some way; giving blood was a way for me to give back.
“My commitment to the Long Ride is enduring because prostate cancer is as significant as breast cancer, but blokes struggle to talk about it,” he said.
With his retirement ahead after a 40-year career in Air Force, Air Marshal Davies intends to play more golf and spend time with his family, including wife Rhonda, children Erin and Jacob, and grandchildren Phoebe and Felicity.
“I’m looking forward to playing more golf and giving Rhonda and Jake some well-earned attention and priority – I owe them a lot,” he said.
“Through my career, I have learnt that anything is achievable in our Defence Force if you have a goal. I am proud of seeing us evolve culturally and effectively as a combat force,” he said.
We thank you for your service to the nation Air Marshal Davies.
Air Marshal Leo Davies will officially hand over command of the RAAF to Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld at a formal Change of Command Ceremony and parade on Wednesday 3 July, which will include flypasts by multiple aircraft.
The flypasts will feature the aircraft types that have been accepted into Air Force during the tenure of the outgoing Chief of Air Force. Details are available on our flying activity webpage.