Sunday, 3 April 2011

March 31 Point Cook 90th RAAF Anniversary

Up early for bus transport to the airfield, I had been lucky enough to make contact with Karin Shulz a white shepherd breeder in Ballarat who kindly brought her 5 dogs out to meet me.  I had a wonderful time meeting all her girls and her new male pup from New Zealand.  My dog fix was fulfilled but I missed my Ajax all the more.
With limited time I rushed to catch the last bus. Once there, I organized myself, jumped aboard the Stinson and we departed Ballarat at 11.09 am for Point Cook, taxiing behind the Roy Fox in the Dragon Rapide then following us was Rod and Rob in the Stearman.

After a short 37 minute flight we spotted Point Cook airport in the distance.  What a beautiful location! – 2 airstrips surrounded by lush green paddocks, adjacent to the beautiful Victorian coastline.  “Truly a glorious setting for an airfield”.  We lowered our nose for a fairly wide circuit and landed softly on the grass strip alongside runway 17.

The lineup of aircraft on the grass was truly a spectacular sight and the military aircraft on the front flight line were very impressive.  After the ritual registration we were allocated our rooms and trudged off to find them. 

Point Cook approach

 They were called the ‘Condos’ being 2 story and quite new compared to many of the accommodation blocks.  Our itinerary was to include the formal event of the Official Dinner for the RAAF 90th Anniversary but before that, we had time to experience the famous Pt Cook museum.  The standard and layout of all the exhibits was truly educational with lots of videos along the way.  We even found the information on the Stinson where she was inducted to the RAAF.  It was allocated A38-1 (which we knew) and was in Communications Corp for only 2 years.  The yellow brick road led us to numerous hangars with many static aircraft displays  concluding with the modern day F-111 – definitely well worth the visit. 

  One of the most unusual displays in the museum was the Bristol Military Boxkite which was almost complete.A truly exquisite work of art in fabric and wires.

We left ourselves an hour to prepare for the evening’s event and went back to our room to freshen up and get ready.  The organizers had requested that we dress in period costume for the era of our aircraft in aeroplane associated clothing.  Due to the ongoing plans of our trip we did not have the capacity to bring costumes for this event and Kevin had been too busy re-installing the engine to find any clothes.  I had however located a hat and dear Sonia had obtained a lovely little bag from her neighbor, so together with some of my regular wardrobe I dressed myself for the event.

Some of the costumes were truly amazing.

Following cocktails and appetizers outside (brrrrr) we were invited into the Officers Mess to commence the dinner.  The walls were adorned with paintings of present and past Point Cook Chief of Air Staff and Co A Force.  The evening’s event brought 5 past CoAF’s, local politicians, Event Sponsors (Qantas), Temora Museum, all town Mayors, and organizers together with the 140 odd pilots, co-pilots and partners.  The rooms were filled to capacity with all tables closely stacked.  The d├ęcor and food were all superb and the speeches though long were interjected with humour and inclusion of the pilgrimage participants.  One of the most appreciated men on this tour was Colin Griffin a 91 year old veteran who was still flying.  His witty comments kept us all laughing. {The next morning we were walking to breakfast and came up behind Col, who quipped “I’m at maximum continuous power – can’t go any faster}.  This man is an inspiration to us all with his attitude to life.

The winners of the event questionnaire were announced winning a day with the Point Cook Air force including a flight in a PC9.  The evening concluded with cutting of the magnificent cake celebrating the Anniversary of the commencement of the RAAF on this day 90 years ago.

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Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL

Stinson Reliant SR8C VH-UXL
over Perth city (Photo: Greg Hill)

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Flying farming couple who live on 135 acres. Kev is obsessed by aeroplanes. Vicki is devoted to horses and White Swiss Shepherds.