The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, made an announcement at RAAF’s centenary dinner on 31 March that can finally be made public.
From now on, the Air Force will replace the term ‘airmen’ with ‘aviators’ to mark its transition into its second 100 years.
“Of all the work that has been done in developing our Air Force culture, the most challenging dilemma has been fully explaining who we are,” AIRMSHL Hupfeld said.
“We understand well enough what we are and what we do – but have never quite managed to successfully articulate who we are. We are all aviators.
“As an Air Force, we are born of the air and space. It is our home, and the place from which we serve our nation. Our trade is aviation.
“In everything that we do, we are aviators first and foremost. All of us, by virtue of what we do and what we believe. It is what binds us together.”
He added that the public shouldn’t confuse the role of pilots with all of the Air Force’s common purpose, “to think, act and imagine from the perspective of the skies and space above us”.
Last week, RAAF celebrated its centenary with an ambitious flypast over Canberra that featured 60 warbirds and modern aircraft such as the Spitfire, Caribou, C-130J and F/A-18 Hornet.
AIRMSHL Hupfeld spoke then about the Air Force’s evolution from basic biplanes to boasting a fleet characterised by high-tech capabilities including space and cyber.
“In our first 100 years, in conflict, peacekeeping, search and rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, Air Force developed a reputation within our nation and among our global partners for courage, perseverance and overcoming adversity. We consistently deliver air power well above the weight of an air force our size,” he said.
“More than 350,000 Australians have served in Air Force since 1921 and 11,191 have died in service during that time — we will always remember their service and sacrifice.
“Today, Air Force works with Navy, Army, Defence civilians, other government departments, defence industry and our international partners. These relationships have always been important for our success and will be crucial as we face the strategic challenges of an increasingly complex and competitive environment.
“As we commence our second century, it is our duty to preserve our proud legacy and to maintain our enduring commitment to supporting Australia.”
On 31 March 100 years ago, the Australian Air Force was formed, and five months later, its Royal designation was added to create the Royal Australian Air Force.
It was only the second “Royal” air arm in the British Commonwealth, following the formation of the RAF.
To celebrate, Australian Aviation released a special RAAF 100 In Focus digital edition to mark the big occasion.
It features an exclusive interview with the AIRMSHL Hupfeld; an introduction from Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price; as well as some of the best features from Australian Aviation’s history, examining the inner workings of the RAAF.
Click this link to subscribe and read.