Forties and Fifties



  • Major Ken Oram

  • RAF Auster flown by CAPT Joe Luscombe on Air OP duties when he was shot down and killed on 5 June 1952

  • Captains Laurie Doyle and George Constable with 16 AOP Flt Auster

  • New Cessna at 16 Air OP Flt. L to R: LT Ron Morris, CAPT Laurie Doyle, LT Geoff Precians, CAPT George Constable, SQNLDR Ken McLaughlan.

First Army helicopter pilot


Major Rotary Ross Harding


In 1955 the Director of Army Supply and Transport believed that transport helicopters would be the vehicle of choice on the future battlefields to provide rapid and flexible transportation and logistic support. He commenced the process to acquire helicopters for the Army and at the same time dispatched a Captain R. R. Harding off to the UK and the US to undertake pilot and instructor training on fixed and rotary wing aircraft.


‘Rotary Ross’, as Harding became known, returned to Australia fully qualified as a helicopter instructor but, alas, the procurement of the helicopters for Army had stalled.  He was detached to the Royal Australian Navy to retain his skills and flew Sycamore helicopters for two years.  When 16 ALA Squadron was raised, Rotary Ross was the first Australian Army instructor on the new Sioux helicopters.