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‘Father of the RAAF’ enters Hall of Fame

written by Hannah Dowling | July 9, 2021

In WWI, Sir Richard was appointed flight commander with No 1 Squadron, AFC, the first complete flying Corps to be formed in Australia (Australian War Memorial)

In honour of the RAAF’s centenary celebration, Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams KBE CB DSO has been announced as the latest inductee into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame.

Sir Richard is considered to be the ‘Father of the RAAF’, due to his role in advocating for the establishment of an Australian Air Force, run separately to Army and Navy, following WWI.

Born in 1890 in rural South Australia, Sir Richard is said to have been among the first military pilots training in Australia, and went on to command Australian and British fighter units in WWI as a lieutenant in the Army.

Between the wars, Sir Richard played a key role in the establishment of the RAAF, and became its inaugural Chief of Air Staff in 1922, a role which he held for 13 years over three terms, longer than any other officer.

“The inclusion of Sir Richard in this year’s inductees is a testament to the outstanding historical service to our country by the Royal Australian Air Force in its Centenary Year,” the AAHOF said.


Due to COVID restrictions, the AAHOF was unable to formally celebrate its 2020 inductees last year as planned.

As such, Sir Richard will be formally recognised and entered into the Hall of Fame alongside the 2020 inductees during the 2020-21 Induction Dinner and ceremony, organised by the AAHOF, on 30 October 2021.

“On behalf of the board of AAHOF, our sponsors and supporters, I would like to thank everyone who has been so understanding with the postponement of the 2020 Dinner and other activities during 2020-21 and the many and varied COVID restrictions associated with that,” AAHOF chairman Steve Padgett OAM said.

“However, we are delighted to confirm that we are going ahead with the 2021 Induction Dinner scheduled to take place on 30th of October.”

The dinner will be held at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawarra Regional Airport, Albion Park, NSW.

Sir Richard joins Captain Deborah Lawrie, known as Australia’s first female airline pilot for a major Australian airline, Basil South Brown, a co-founder of East West Airlines, and John Weymouth, a national pioneer in the use of helicopters for commercial and emergency purposes, all of whom were honoured as the 2020 inductees into the Hall of Fame.

Additionally, the Southern Cross Award this year is in recognition of the significant contribution to the firefighting effort during the recent devastating bushfires made by the Australian Helicopter Industry Association and the Australian Aerial Application Association.

The Hall of Fame was launched in Wagga Wagga in 2010, and in that time has now formally honoured more than 50 significant Australian aviators.

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