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Aviation Hall of Fame dinner postponed for third time

written by Adam Thorn | September 2, 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)

The Australian Aviation Hall of Fame’s gala dinner has been postponed for the third time, and will now take place in the first quarter of 2022.

The event will celebrate the achievements of two years’ worth of inductees, including ‘Father of the RAAF’ Sir Richard Williams; Australia’s first female pilot for a major airline, Deborah Lawrie; and Basil South Brown, a co-founder of East West Airlines.

It was first due to take place at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawarra Regional Airport in November 2020 before it was moved to March 2021, October 2021 and now to next year.

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Steve Padgett, chairman of the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF), said the next event will be smaller.

“The risks associated with holding the event at this time because of COVID-19 currently present too many challenges for our inductees, guests and organisers,” he said.

“We will provide more details in due course, but in addition to this we anticipate proceeding with the scheduled annual Induction Gala Dinner in October in 2022.”

Father of the RAAF Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams KBE CB DSO will be a high profile inductee, given the Air Force’s centenary celebration this year.

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He is known for 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.

Other inductees include John Weymouth, a national pioneer in the use of helicopters for commercial and emergency purposes.

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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