RAAF remembers 'popular' officers

March 14, 2001

FLGOFF Luke Morrall

FLTLT Euan Duncan

The two men killed in a plane crash near Newcastle last month were popular, dedicated members of the Royal Australian Air Force who died doing something they truly loved - flying.

Flight Lieutenant Euan Duncan, 39, and Flying Officer Luke Morrall, 23, died instantly when the vintage Tiger Moth biplane they were flying crashed into bushland near Williamtown Airport on 16 February.

The two were members of the RAAF Williamtown Flying Club, a civilian flight organisation.

They had only been at RAAF Base Williamtown for just over six months, but in that time both men had quickly developed strong friendships with their colleagues and had become popular around the Base.

FLTLT Duncan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and raised in Hong Kong. He joined the Royal Air

Force (RAF) as an airman in 1980 and, after earning his degree, was commissioned as an Engineering Officer.

FLTLT Duncan had a passion for mountaineering and, after climbing Alaska's Mt McKinley in 1995, was invited to join an attempt on Mt Everest the following year.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck another expedition on Everest in May 1996 and FLTLT Duncan and his colleagues were forced to abandon their attempt on the summit to undertake a prolonged and difficult rescue.

His efforts saw him presented with the RADAR People of the Year Award in 1997 for his part in rescuing the 15 injured climbers.

In 1998, FLTLT Duncan served at the Royal Australian Air Force Officer Training School at RAAF Base Williams, Victoria.

The Australian lifestyle must have appealed to him, and after leaving the RAF in October 2000, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force in June 2001, and was promptly posted to 81 Wing Williamtown for duty with 78 Wing.

In January this year, FLTLT Duncan was appointed Officer-in-Charge Field Training Flight 78WG Williamtown, where he was responsible for the development and delivery of technical training for the F/A-18 Hornet and Hawk 127 aircraft.

FLTLT Duncan, who held both UK and Australian pilot's licences, recently became an Australian citizen at an official Australia Day ceremony in Newcastle.

FLGOFF Morrall, the son of former Group Captain Phil Morrall, was born in Queensland and grew up in Canberra. He was awarded the Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards, with the Gold awarded to him by the Governor-General in 1995.

He joined the Air Force in 1998 after completing a chemistry degree at the Australian National University.

FLGOFF Morrall harboured a love for aviation and always wanted to join the Air Force in an aircrew capacity.

He originally commenced training as a Navigator in 1999, before being posted to RAAF Base Williamtown in May last year, where he reassessed his options.

His interest turned to Logistics and he made the decision to be the best Logistics Officer he could be.

FLGOFF Morrall developed friendships among all ranks very quickly and his colleagues remember him for his professionalism, compassion and determination. Family members said he was a person who 'loved life and pushed the envelope in his own quiet way'.

He was also sports mad and had a particular passion for soccer.

While at 81WG he became friends with FLTLT Duncan, whose love for mountaineering captured his imagination. Together, they had talked of a possible trip to the Andes.

FLTLT Duncan is survived by his parents, James and Morna Duncan, and sisters Catriona Moir and Lynn Tailor.

FLGOFF Morrall is survived by his parents, Phil and Rosemary Morrall, his brother Joseph and sister Felicity.

Although FLTLT Duncan will be laid to rest in Scotland, a memorial service was held at Williamtown on Thursday, 28 February.

Meanwhile, FLGOFF Morrall's funeral was held in Canberra on Wednesday, 27 February.

By Ben Caddaye