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
Marshal Sir Richard Williamss AFC pilots wings,
carried into space by Australian astronaut Dr Andy Thomas
earlier this year.
by Stephen Clements
A tribute to our aviation history, a set of pilots 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
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
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 pilots brevet, is a
significant event in a pilots 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:
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 191718 and Williams received
these while commanding 40th (Army) Wing RAF in Palestine as a
Lieutenant Colonel in the Australian Flying Corps.