Summary: Interview with RAAF Squadron Leader John Laming AFC. In the chat we discuss in detail John’s RAAF service which ranges from captaining an Avro Lincoln maritime patrol aircraft to flying the Governor General and Prime Minister as apart of no 34 VIP transport Squadron based in Canberra. John has flown a huge number of types during his time in the RAAF including the CAC Wirraway, P51 Mustang, De Havilland Vampires, Vickers Viscounts, Convair, DC-3 Dakota and Hawker Siddeley 748. He even once flew a Hawker Sea Fury borrowed from the Royal Australian Navy which was at the time was the fastest piston powered aircraft in the world.
The newspapers were airdropped from the aircraft into fields in country NSW.
This job lead to John joining the RAAF after a few accidents and the eventual closure of the Air Service. After being unsuccessful on his first attempt John decided to gain some experience in flying Tiger Moths before reapplying. John has some experience flying in the right hand seat of the DC-3. Johns idol was a young pilot called Dick Cruikshank (mentioned in attached article) who flew for SMH and told John that he would never be a pilot. Dick was killed 6 months later in an aircraft accident.
VH-SMK – Lockheed Hudson
In this video there are examples of the Lockheed Hudson and the Douglas DC-3 which were used by the SMH Air Service at Camden where John worked
RAAF Initial Training
Three RAAF CAC Wirraways in formation flight
Johns first operational aircraft was the Mustang, at that time pilots were being readied for combat in Korea. John noted that the CAC Wirraway was a first class aircraft to get pilots ready for more powerful aircraft. John had some troubles in the aerial gunnery phase and was scrubbed from the course.
An example of a CAC P-51 Mustang
Flying the Lincoln
John was posted to Townsville flying the Avro Lincoln Bomber. These Lincolns were converted to Maritime Patrol aircraft with a longer nose, Sonobouys and torpedoes. There was no conversion courses at the time. John simply started flying with an experiences captain.
A RAAF Avro Lincoln at low level
The Lincoln was very heavy, high off the ground and had poor visibility out the front of the aircraft. Landing was very tricky with a conventional landing gear, you lost all forward vision and used the compass to keep strait. John noted that it was not standard to use checklists at that time.
John’s Lincoln Crew
John finished up as a captain of the lincoln on his first tour on the Lincoln’s which is unheard of in the civilian world.
John had an interesting encounter with a United States Navy frigate called the USS Bowbell near Papua New Guinea.
Flying the Hawker Sea Fury
John was able to Fly the RAN Hawker Sea Fury at Nowra during some time off from exercises. Unfortunately he was briefed incorrectly on the approach speed and he had a hard landing (no damage) in the aircraft as the speed he was flying was only used for carrier landings and was close to the stall speed.
An example of a RAN Sea Fury
Notice the Canopy clearance (referenced in John’s story) on the Sea Fury in the below video.
John had a number of tours as an instructor in the RAAF including as an instructor on Avro Lincolns where he was awarded the Air Force Cross for his efforts. John notes that one of the keys to instructing is to be enthusiastic.
VIP Squadron Pilot
An example of the CV-440 Metropolitan
John was involved in a number of Aircraft Investigations, he did not receive any additional training for this role. He investigated the accident of a Macchi training aircraft where the aircraft pitched up vertically and crashed into the ground.
An example of a RAAF Macchi Trainer
John has written an entertaining book called ‘Tall Tails of the South Pacific’ which can be purchased via the Lulu website. You can win a copy of the book by being the first person to post a comment below this post related to one of John’s stories on the Air Facts Blog.
The Cover of John’s Book
Johns Book – Tall Tails of the South Pacific
Runway 30 Nauru International Airport
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Johns Articles on the Airfacts Blog – The page which lists all of John’s articles on Air Facts.
Johns Book – Tall Tails of the South Pacific – Click here to buy John’s book.
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