Air Force News

Contents
Top Stories
International
Letters
Features
Your Career
History
Recreation
Eagle Eye
Entertainment
Learn
Health and Fitness
Sport
About us
Home
Navigation Bar End

 

 

Top Stories

Wings journey into space
“Three [wings] were for me and I could get them direct from the makers, Hicks Atkinson & Son, Melbourne, price three shillings and sixpence each.” - Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams


By Wing Commander Jo Elkington

Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams’s AFC pilot’s wings, carried into space by Australian astronaut Dr Andy Thomas earlier this year.

Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams’s AFC pilot’s wings, carried into space by Australian astronaut Dr Andy Thomas earlier this year.

Photo by Stephen Clements

IN A tribute to our aviation history, a set of pilot’s “wings” were carried into space by astronaut Dr Andy Thomas on his most recent shuttle journey.

The “wings”, normally on display at the RAAF Museum Point Cook, belonged to the aviator who is properly remembered and honoured as the “Father” of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams.

After its unique journey, the “wings” were returned to Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd, by Dr Andy Thomas in the presence of Prime Minister John Howard, last month.

Air Marshal Shepherd reiterated the importance of our history and the people who have served and continue to serve in the Air Force.

“Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams was an excellent pioneer, role model and admired leader. We owe much to him for shaping the way for Air Force through our early years. He is rightly remembered as the ‘Father of the RAAF’ for his determination and leadership,” he said.

On a calm morning at Point Cook, Victoria in November 1914, Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams completed three brief flying tests in a Bristol Boxkite, qualifying as the first military pilot trained in Australia.

Eight years later he became the first Chief of the Air Staff — a post held for most of the inter-war years.
Receipt of “wings” or the pilot’s brevet, is a significant event in a pilot’s career. It marks the milestone of them being qualified to fly.

An extract from Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams’ autobiography in regard to his wings reads:

“We finished the course that day — my total solo flying time was 7 hours, 27 minutes, of which 50 minutes were on the last day of the extended course in the BE, the flying of which should have been the aim of the course from its commencement.

“There was no presentation of a flying badge, the design had not yet been approved, but in late January 1915 I received a letter from Petre saying that this had now been done and that 15 had been ordered. Three were for me and I could get them direct from the makers, Hicks Atkinson & Son, Melbourne, price three shillings and sixpence each.”

Air Marshal Williams’ original wings were of the design, “wings outspread with crown over wreath containing letters AMF”. The “wings” carried by Dr Andy Thomas were AFC wings belonging to Williams.

AMF was replaced with AFC in 1917–18 and Williams received these while commanding 40th (Army) Wing RAF in Palestine as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Flying Corps.

 

Top of side bar

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Stories | Letters | Features | Your Career | Recreation | Entertainment | Health & Fitness | Sport | About us