Awarded to an individual, a group or organisation involved in any branch of aviation in the Australian Region or to Australian nationals abroad, who or which has made a meritorious contribution to any aviation activity, either by displaying technical excellence or by the development of a procedure or operational technique of an outstanding nature.
On 31 March 2021, the Royal Australian Air Force celebrated 100 years of service since becoming an independent Air Force, built on the foundations of the Australian Flying Corps. In that time, the Royal Australian Air Force has grown from operating wood and canvas aircraft, to become one of the most integrated and capable fifth generation Air Forces in the world today.
A significant element of the centenary celebrations was a flypast over Canberra showcasing past and present Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, including participation in the parade in which the Royal Australian Air Force was presented with a new Queen’s Colour. The flypast culminated in a display over Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra by the Royal Australian Air Force aerobatic display team, the Roulettes. This effort was organised and led by a small team of expert aviators, under the leadership of the Royal Australian Air Force’s most experienced flying display director.
Planning for the event required significant and complex effort over a period of nine months, and culminated in the majority of the current Royal Australian Air Force inventory and over a dozen historic aircraft being represented in the flypast. In all, 57 aircraft with varying performance characteristics participated, many making multiple appearances over a period of ninety minutes. Flightpaths, holding patterns and timing gates were developed by the team to ensure a seamless and safe display was achieved. The display aircraft were supported by air-to-air refuelling assets and a coordinating Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. Participation was also coordinated with Australian Army helicopters, in recognition of the service from previously Royal Australian Air Force operated rotary-wing aircraft, and a Royal Australian Navy Seahawk helicopter that ‘paraded’ the underslung Royal Australian Air Force Ensign to the significant crowd.
Group Captain Tim Sloane and his team of four undertook all of the planning and liaison for the event. This included liaison with multiple Royal Australian Air Force units and organisations, the operators of the civilian operated historic aircraft, civilian and military air traffic agencies, and approval authorities from the Australian Defence Force and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. During conduct of the event, all team members played an active role in ensuring formation timings, leadership, management, and safety were maintained.
Organisation and execution of the event was not without challenges. Due to the fluid COVID-19 restrictions, several team members spent some time in quarantine and were therefore required to continue their work remotely. COVID-19 also meant that the planned communications network was unable to be established, so the team quickly implemented an alternate solution. Further, one team member was isolated for a number of days due the New South Wales floods. The final hurdle overcome was the threat of a number of aircraft from Queensland based units being unable to participate due to the last minute COVID-19 lockdowns, requiring late-night contingency plans to be developed in the event the threat was realised.
Despite these challenges and the constantly changing environment, Group Captain Sloane and his team maintained a quiet determination to ensure the event showcased to best effect the past and present Royal Australian Air Force; which was a fitting tribute to the more than 350,000 Australians who have served, and the more than 11,100 of these who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
On the day, the event went off without incident. That it achieved the aim of spectacularly and safely showcasing 100 years of the Royal Australian Air Force is not in doubt. Indeed, the significant crowd of both public and Australian Defence Force members surrounding Lake Burley Griffin burst into spontaneous applause at the culmination of the ninety minute series of timed flypasts and grand parade of heritage and current operational aircraft.
For their significant contribution, professionalism and dedication, and in true RAAF spirit – through adversity to the stars - Group Captain Tim Sloane and his Royal Australian Air Force Centenary Flypast Team (Squadron Leaders James Denton, Jason Gamlin, Christopher Rogers and Flight Sergeant Tim Muehlberg) are awarded the Grand Master’s Australian Medal.
1981/82 CSIRO Interscan Team - H C Minnett Esq, Dr D N Cooper, Dr J P Wild
1983 not awarded
1983/84 Brian Hamilton Heeps Esq
1985 not awarded
1985/86 Dr Henry Millicer
1986/87 Ingo Renner Esq
1987/88 Wg Cdr Bernard I Fernandes
1989 - 1990 not awarded
1990/91 Don M Kendell Esq
1991/92 Laurence C Gruzman Esq
1993 not awarded
1993/94 Sqn Ldr Kevin W Rushworth
1994/95 Captain Ernest A Girault
1995/96 Gary Lawson-Smith Esq
1996/97 Australian Mission Aviation Fellowship
1997/98 The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Inc.
1999 not awarded
1999/2000 John G Roncz & Graham Swannell
2000/01 Captain Trevor Jensen
2001/02 Bob Peake
2002/03 Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia
2004 - 2006 not awarded
2006/07 C-17 Transition Team & 36 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force
2007/08 Number 92 Wing, Royal Australian Air Force
2008/09 The School of Air Warfare, Royal Australian Air Force
2009/10 816 Sqn Royal Australian Navy
2010/11 Air Mobility Control Centre RAAF
2012 not awarded
2012/13 Emergency Management Queensland - Helicopter Rescue
2013/14 Royal Australian Air Force Ageing Aircraft Systems Audit Team
2014/15 Flight Training Adelaide
2016 Temora Aviation Museum
2017 Royal Australian Air Force Aerobatic Team - The Roulettes
2018 James Eric Thurstan
2019 RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit
2020 Captain Susan Mchaffie
2021 Flt Lt Laura Ashleigh Haws RAAF
2022 Centenary Flypast Team RAAF
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