JAN 2011 – In a follow up on the 2010 RAAF F-111 retirement ceremony, i am now able to show some more interesting items and photos with a connection to flightgear and F-111 people i have come to know.
Chris Jamesson my friend from QLD who is a ALSE collector and F-111 enthusiast, has provided these flight helmet visor covers with RAAF 1 Sqn and 6 Sqn markings on them, for me to show the hi-viz and low viz schemes used in the 37years of F-111 operations at RAAF Amberley.
FLIGHT HELMET VISOR COVERS AS USED ON F-111 OPERATIONS
1 Squadron, 82 Wing, RAAF Amberley
RAAF 82 Wing, 1 Sqn fibreglass visor hard cover for HGU-26/P flight helmet, high viz scheme. Reflective tape on the white helmet made it easily seen from a long way off under some conditions. This scheme was used from late 1970s to mid/late 1980s.
6 Squadron, 82 Wing, RAAF Amberley – the world’s last F-111 Operators Dec 2010
RAAF 82 Wing, 6 Sqn Visor cloth cover for current use HGU-55/P flight helmet, low viz scheme.
The other visor cloth cover with a tiger is for 2 OCU – the F-18/A Hornet trainer/conversion Sqn based at RAAF Williamtown.
F-111 FLIGHT HELMETS
Here is the HGU-26/P helmet and P type oxygen mask.
This helmet is marked with a 1 Sqn visor low viz scheme.
This oxygen mask used the single slot bayonets which can be seen on the side of the oxygen mask hooked up into the bayonet receivers. They were used from late 1970s to early 1990s in operations.
The colours were painted from white to grey as the doctrine of combat changed from high viz colour schemes to tactical low visual requirements needing grey.
The change from a white helmet to a grey colour scheme was undertaken, as a white helmet meant you could be spotted from a long way off and this means you can be engaged easier by a human eye/enemy combatant….
F-111 FLIGHT HELMET RESTORATION PROJECT
I am at the moment rebuilding a flight helmet into what the F-111 aircrew wore in operations in the late 1990s/early 2000s era.
It will be a HGU-55/P flight helmet with a P type oxygen mask with single slot bayonets.
I will use this as a RAAF heritage display item at airshows/event displays etc i do in the future.
It will look similar to like this helmet below which Chris restored.
This is a late era RAAF F-111 era HGU-55/P with double visor – clear and tinted under a cloth visor cover with low viz 1 Sqn markings. A green P type oxygen mask with a late use – 2000 era quick release bayonet fitting which replaced the old style metal single lot bayonets.
VIDEO OF F-111 RETIREMENT FLIGHT
Here is a video i have found showing some of the flyby on the December 3rd 2010 F-111 retirement day.
FORMER F-111 RAAF AIRCREW
As some may recall i have known John Bushell for a while – he was a RAAF F-111 bombardier/navigator during 1973-1975 period. John is seen on left here in 1975.
In a amazing coincidence – showing just how small this world can be – i have via a woman i met, found out her father is a F-111 pilot from the 1970s.
After some further discussions it was confirmed her father is of one of John’s former aircrew mates – Walter Walters. They flew at times together in F-111C flights in the mid 1970s.
Walter flew in Vietnam the RAAF CAC Mk.20 Canberra bomber out of Phang Rang Airbase, on air strike mission in providing CAS and strikes on Viet Cong/NVA targets.
So far I cant confirm if he flew with John as well on any of these missions.
I amazed to now know another former RAAF Canberra and F-111 aircrew member. It is truly a unique experience for me to come across.
WALT AND JOHNS FINAL FLIGHT IN F-111 TOGETHER DEC 1975
I was able to learn in exchanging further details more about their final F-111C flight.
Walter kindly provided to me via his daughter, some photos of John and Walters last flight for both of them on 9 Dec 75 in F-111C A8-131.
I didnt know until i checked recently with John, where he confirmed , that this was also his final F-111 flight, ending a near 8year period for John in fast jets/bombers.
Here, Walter in flight suit on left and John on right in flight suit have their final flight drink along side another squadron mate.
Both Walt and John wear early generation Nomex flight suit CWU-27/P versions made in Australia. The both wear their name badge on the flight suits and squadron badges.
Walter seems to be wearing a CSU-3/P g-suit.
John has kindly been able to name for me all the people who he worked with in the 1975 group photo from left:
Keith “Piggy” Padgett, Wally Walters, Tony “Stinky” Stankevicius, Gil Moore, Lance “Halvo” Halvorsen, me, Mike Bennert (USAF), Barry Sullivan, Mick Nott.
OLD MATES MEET AGAIN AT PIG TALES
On the F-111 Pig Tales retirement day on December 3 2010, as seen on my previous blog reports, i couldnt find John on the day but was able to come into contact with some of his other squadron mates from the 1970s.
Walter and John tho met up on the day to catch up. Walter kindly provided this photo of himself on left and John on right meeting up during the day.
It is amazing that these 2 men i now know were part of the same aircrew in the last F-111 flight….. over 36years ago.
LIFE AFTER RAAF F-111 OPERATIONS
John then left the F-111 community after the Dec 1975 flight as a navigator and was next found doing a overseas exchange role flying in the RAF in a Dominie T1 out of RAF Cranwell in the UK on 21 Jan 76.
He was posted to the UK do navigation training.
John then returned to Australia after a while in the UK, back to RAAF East Sale to work on the Bae HS-748 twin engine navigation trainer aircraft as an instructor, a role he did until early 1980s.
John as i have come to know him is amazing – he can recollect so much detail going back 30-45years.
It is very humbling to have an insight to RAAF operations from John and in so much detail.
FUTURE MAGAZINE STORY
I am hoping to in 2011 all going well, to write a feature article for the Australian Pilot magazine, where i will interview Walter and John and have them hopefully recollect about their time in Vietnam flying Canberra bombers and later on in Australia their F-111 operations.
F-111 RETIREMENT DAY PHOTOS
I have been doing photography as a hobbie for 16years and over this time have developed some good photo skills. I am now very professional and i aim for artistic or interesting compositions when i do my photo shoots.
I shoot using Canon EOS-5D digital bodies and use a variety of lenses – from 20mm thru to 400mm to get the photos.
Thanks to my mate Brad from Lockon Photos – Brad sells photos of aircraft online at his webpage www.lockon.com.au – who took some photos of me doing my work at RAAF Amberley.