This article reviews the late 1960s RAAF fast jet pilot who would have been found flying CAC Sabre Mk 32 in Air Defence roles in Australia or in Thailand at Ubon RTAFB.
My flightgear photo shoot was done using the aircraft which is cared for by the HARS Museum located at Albion Park airport NSW. (Visit www.hars.org.au for more information.) This very Sabre jet aircraft was the first production CAC Sabre and it was A94-901 markings. As it was the first production jet it was issued to ARDU unit for tests and trials in mid 1954. Later on it was upgraded from Mk 30 to Mk31 variant over time. During the 1960s the aircraft served with 76 Sqn at RAAF Williamtown “Panthers”. By 1966 it was retired and stored and eventually ended up at CAC at Fishermens Bend in Melbourne as a gate guard display. By late 1990s the aircraft was brought to Sydney and then HARS has acquired it on loan and have since further restored the aircraft to static standard and it is a centre piece on museum days and airshow days.
Along with my photographer mate Christian we did a photo shoot to show people what the typical fast mover pilot of the 1960s looked like beside the Sabre jet.
The typical setup was by this time standardised on a few different gear pieces. The flight helmet was the HGU-2A/P with a P type oxygen mask or in extreme rare case MBU-5/p oxygen mask was substituted.
The yellow RFD life preserver was made in Australia under license from the 1950s to 1980s and is a copy of the RAF Frankenstein LPU. It has a Co2 bottle on left front and red top. The bottle was activated by pulling down the lever and this injected Co2 into the internal bladder of the vest which then inflated the bladder to keep the pilot floating safely on water. Various survival aids, radio and equipment could be packed into the vest many pockets. It was also attached to the life raft kit.
The flight suit was by late 1960s upgraded from standard RAAF light green cotton flying suit to the then new aramid nomex flight suit which offered more protection in flash fires in cockpit or aircraft fires. These early generation nomex suits were made in a darker green colour and hotter and heavier to wear.
The standard backpack style parachute harness was worn by all Sabre pilots worldwide in the 1960s and was slotted to fit into the NAA T-4E-1 ejection seat for a comfortable fit. A chest and 2 lap buckles on straps were what held the parachute to the pilot. A life raft kit was normally added , which also doubled as a pilot’s seat cushion.
Standard flight boots – laced up black colours were normally worn by all pilots.
An anti g suit or more commonly known as a “gsuit” was worn to enable a pilot to “pull” extra gs in a dogfight or when turning in flight. The RAF supplied model anti g suits were most common but by the 1960s a limited supply of USAF CSU-3/ g suits were in service as the RAAF converted more to a US supply chain for flightgear/alse needs. The g suit connected to the aircraft by the tube on left side and this provided the air pressure to work the suit.
A94-101 has been painted in markings of Jim Flemmings who is a well known former RAAF pilot. I am seen holding a rare photo of Jim, who is also seen standing in flightgear in front of a Sabre jet in 1960s.
The aircraft is extremely well cared for by a team of volunteers, some who are quite passionate about the aircraft.