More than 600 family members and friends received a warm welcome from 35 Squadron welcomed on their family day, and about 200 of them got to take to the air on a C-27J Spartan.
But that wasn’t all. Visitors were able to see one of our nation’s historical aircraft, a DHC-4 Caribou A4-236, right next to the Spartan.
Commanding Officer 35 Squadron Wing Commander David Torrington said involving the Caribou in the event had presented an opportunity to educate the workforce on the role it had played in Air Force’s history.
“A significant portion of 35 Squadron’s history involved flying the Caribou in Vietnam and so we thought it was important to acknowledge that history,” Wing Commander Torrington said.
“We wanted to make our family day as engaging as possible by involving as much of 35 Squadron as possible, both past and present.”
Caribou A4-236 began its Air Force career in 1965. It began operation in the Vietnam War, but it saw much more use as a humanitarian aid resource in in NSW in 1990, Timor-Leste (East Timor) in 1999 and the Solomon Islands from 2003 to 2004.
History and Heritage – Air Force restored the aircraft in 2021–22. It’s normally on show at the Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre, which has a public open day each month. It’s free but you do need a ticket, available from the centre’s website.
Director General History and Heritage – Air Force, Air Commodore Robert Lawson, said they were pleased to have provided the Caribou for display with the Spartans for the 35 Squadron event.
“Displaying the two aircraft types together marks a proud tradition of hard work and operational effectiveness, which continues today with the C-27J Spartan,” Air Commodore Lawson said.
The Air Force operated 29 Caribou aircraft between 1964 and 2009. They were greatly valued as a flexible air mobility aircraft capable of airdrop, airlift and operating from improvised and unsurfaced runways – just like today’s Spartans.