First Ferry Famil Courses

   .... the 1973 F-111C ferry crews did an AUS famil course at Amberley to begin with. There were two of these courses the first course made up the first ferry crews, the second course contained personnel for the second and third ferries. We used the Dash 1 from 1968 which bore little resemblance in terms of performance figures to the updated one we subsequently used in the USA. The AUS famil was good in that it helped to get ready for the next stage in the US.  All the ferry crews did a conversion at Nellis AFB with 442 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron; part of the 474 Tactical Fighter Wing.  

Tales by Barry Sullivan, Gold Coast - Second Course.  The first ferry conversion contained all 12 aircrew, the second ferry conversion had less with numbers made up from the first for the trip home, the third ferry which I was on was similar to the second and the fourth ferry there was no conversion it was carried out by a mix of crews from the first three courses. The Australian instructors were Chris Hancock, Dick Kelloway, Alan Lockett and Jules Wills. They did all the ground school and most of the flying training but we also flew with US personnel.


Tales by Ray Perry, Brisbane - Second Course.  The 72/73 Aus Famil guys as I recall (with one exception) all went on to do their training with 442 TFTS at Nellis on the F-111A. The couple of weeks at Amberley involved an intro to Amberley and the F-111 and a lot of "hurry up and wait”.  Ronnie was at his best when after being advised of my posting date, I asked for a couple of days grace in which to arrive.  I was being married on Sat 20 Jan and driving on up from Camden in NSW.  Advice was that the start date for the course (or non-course) was 22 Jan and you could take your pick: arrive on 22 Jan and go to the US or arrive on 29 Jan and don't go to the US.  It was a LONG drive up in the old MG on the 21st…

The exception noted above was Big Al. (Ed note: Big Al Curr was temporarily medically grounded)  He and I were crewed together and he probably feigned sickness to avoid having to fly with me. Roger Parsons took his place for the Nellis push.

We, the second tranche, didn't depart for the US until after 6 March 73 as I did an IRT on the Mirage at Willy on that date.  First flight at Nellis was on 22 May 73 with Dickaway in the right seat - USAF unit was/is 442 TFTS.  Roger and I picked up 138 on 26 July with 2.0 hours in the 500… More than doubled that on the way back to McClellan!  Flying from McC was under the auspices of "RAAF WASH Flying Unit".  Third ferry kicked off on 20 September and was pretty uneventful with 3 x 5.5 hour legs McClellan - Hickam - Pago Pago - Amberley.  Back to McC in mid October for the final ferry. Departed McC on 26 November with Al Pearson in the right seat of 148. I won't bore you yet with the full story of the Hickam to Nandi leg, but I did get 7.1 in the log book without AAR or punching the tanks!  Arrived Amberley 4 December 73.

Growds and I did the first displays in the Pig from Feb to Apr 1975 until the "posters" discovered I was having too much of a good time and banished me to Canberra… Back to Mirages Nov 76…. Pig time again in September 88 as OC 82 and only a refresher - no nice long full course.  Same thing again in September 94 when I returned as CDR. As far as I know, I was the only left seater who had difficulty finding a good home. Mirage to Pig to Mirage to Pig squared is probably unique. Also, I didn't get a full conversion in anywhere. Bit sad not being in any course photos except maybe for the Nellis quickie.....

Hope this adds a little to the saga


Ray Perry