RAAF Williams

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RAAF Williams
RAAF Point Cook
RAAF Laverton
Point Cook and Laverton
Near Melbourne, Victoria in Australia
RAAF Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 YPMC Creek.jpg
Take off of a RAAF Lockheed C-130 Hercules at RAAF Williams, Point Cook, in 2006
RAAF Williams is located in Melbourne
RAAF Williams
RAAF Williams
Location south-west of Melbourne CBD
Coordinates 37°55′54″S 144°45′12″E / 37.93167°S 144.75333°E / -37.93167; 144.75333Coordinates: 37°55′54″S 144°45′12″E / 37.93167°S 144.75333°E / -37.93167; 144.75333
Type Military air base
Site information
Owner Department of Defence
Operator  Royal Australian Air Force
Website RAAF Williams
Garrison information
Garrison Air Force Training Group
Occupants
Airfield information
Identifiers ICAO: YMPC
Elevation 4 metres (14 ft) AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
04/22 1,137 metres (3,730 ft) Asphalt
08/26 1,066 metres (3,497 ft) Grass
17/35 1,374 metres (4,508 ft) Asphalt
Sources: Australian AIP and aerodrome chart[1]

RAAF Williams (ICAO: YMPC) is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) military air base set across two locations, at Point Cook and Laverton, located approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-west of the Melbourne central business district in Victoria, Australia. Both establishments previously existed as separate RAAF Bases (RAAF Base Point Cook and RAAF Base Laverton) until 1989 when they were amalgamated to form RAAF Williams. The name was chosen in honour of Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, the 'father' of the RAAF.[2]

RAAF Williams, Point Cook is the birthplace of the Royal Australia Air Force and has the oldest continually operating military airfield in the world.[3]

RAAF Williams, Point Cook

The land area at Point Cook was purchased by the Australian Government in 1912 with the vision to form what would become the Australian Flying Corps. Due to the success of the AFC in the First World War, the AFC became a separate service, now known as the Royal Australian Air Force. Point Cook remained the RAAF's only base until 1925 when RAAF Base Richmond and RAAF Base Laverton were also built.

Point Cook is considered the birthplace and the spiritual home of the RAAF. It is also the airport at which the Royal Victorian Aero Club was established. It contains a memorial parade ground which was built in the 1920s, a site which was previously used by the AFC for drill training. Point Cook still has an operating airfield, but military operations are generally restricted to the museum based there. The airfield is used by a number of general aviation users, although it is still classified as a military aerodrome. It is the oldest continuously operating military aerodrome in the world.[3] Radio communication frequencies include CTAF on 126.2 MHz. The airfield NDB is inactive.

RAAF Williams, Point Cook, is the former home of the RAAF College including Officer Training School (OTS) and the RAAF Academy from 1961 to 1985, and is currently used for the Air Force element of the Australian Defence Force Gap Year Program. All administrative functions are located at RAAF Williams, Laverton, and there is a single mess service (Officers Mess Annexe) which provides a meal service to all personnel, and a bar service to Gap Year students only.

The RAAF Museum is located at Point Cook[3] and has a large collection of ex-RAAF aircraft and military memorabilia from the prewar years until recent decades. The museum is open to the public three days per week.[4]

RAAF Williams, Laverton

Laverton is the third oldest RAAF base, being built in 1925 at the same time as RAAF Base Richmond, which was opened slightly before Laverton. Located approximately seven kilometres (four point three miles) from Point Cook,[3] Laverton is the home of Headquarters Air Force Training Group (formerly Training Command). It also contains all the administrative functions of RAAF Williams. Other units at Laverton are the ADF School of Languages, Defence International Training Centre (DITC), Director General Technical Airworthiness, No. 21 (City of Melbourne) Squadron (RAAF Active Reserve) and a number of smaller sub-units. It also hosts an element of 8th/7th Battalion of the Royal Victoria Regiment, Australian Army Reserve, as well as elements of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO).

In 1946 Laverton played host to the first flight of the newly formed Trans Australia Airlines, its Douglas DC-3 VH-AES Hawdon forced to use the base as operations at Essendon had become adversely affected by recent[when?] heavy rains. The base hosted the shotgun portion of the shooting events for the 1956 Summer Olympics.[5]

Laverton's runway was decommissioned September 1996. In early 2007 the Victorian Government gave approval for the land that was formally the Laverton airfield and runway to be developed into the new suburb of Williams Landing. Three areas totalling 55 hectares (136 acres) were set aside for conservation. More than 100 ha (247 acres) of nationally significant native grassland outside the reserves was permitted to be cleared by the state- and federal governments. Williams Landing is being developed into a transit-oriented development, major activity centre and employment node. As well as being a major activity centre and employment node, there will also be four residential neighbourhoods each with their own distinctive character. Construction of Williams Landing commenced in late 2007 and is due for completion by 2025.

In 2016 it was speculated that the Department of Defence would shut down Laverton and its land sold under plans by the RAAF to consolidate its facilities towards northern Australia.[6]

Units

The following units are located at RAAF Williams:[7]

Unit Unit name Force Element Group Aircraft Location Notes
AFTGHQ Headquarters Air Force Training Group Air Force Training Group N/A Laverton [7]
21SQN No. 21 (City of Melbourne) Squadron Combat Support Group N/A Laverton Airbase operations[7]
ADF School of Languages Air Force Training Group N/A Laverton [7][6]
Air Force Band Air Force Training Group N/A Laverton
Combat Support Unit - Williams Air Force Training Group N/A [citation needed]
Defence International Training Centre Air Force Training Group N/A Laverton Cultural and military familiarisation training for foreign military personnel training in Australia.[7]
Health Services Training Flight Air Force Training Group N/A
RAAF Gap Year Program Air Force Training Group N/A Point Cook [7]
RAAF Museum Air Force Training Group Heritage aircraft Point Cook Interactive Flying Display is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 1pm, weather permitting; (mid-Dec to mid-Jan excluding).[7][8]
No. 4 Wing Headquarters Australian Air Force Cadets N/A [9]
No. 404 Squadron AAFC Australian Air Force Cadets N/A
No. 418 Squadron AAFC Australian Air Force Cadets N/A
8/7 RVR 8th/7th Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment Australian Army Reserve N/A Laverton [6]

Other activities

The 1948 Australian Grand Prix was held on a racetrack mapped out on the runways and support roads of the Point Cook airfield.[10] The race was won by Frank Pratt driving a BMW 328.[11]

Werribee Satellite Aerodrome

Land was set aside by the Australian Government west of the Williams bases from 1940 to 1952 for a spare grass airfield and aircraft storage. Several hangars and accommodation buildings were built in 1942 by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the style of US hangars. The USAAF units assigned to Werribee left in 1945. The land was part of what is now the Western Treatment Plant.

Two hangars remain on the land. The northern-most hangar on Geelong Road near Farm Road now houses a former RAAF Consolidated B-24 Liberator under restoration by the B-24 Liberator Memorial Restoration Fund.

See also

References

  1. ^ YMPC – Williams (PDF). AIP En Route Supplement from Airservices Australia, effective 17 August 2017, Aeronautical Chart
  2. ^ "Club History". Royal Victorian Aero Club. 2006. Retrieved 24 October 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d "RAAF Base Williams". Department of Defence. Australian Government. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  4. ^ Schulz, Matthew (15 September 2016). "Melbourne's Point Cook RAAF base is flying high when it comes to aviation history". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "1956 Summer Olympics official report" (PDF). LA84 Foundation. p. 46. 
  6. ^ a b c Harris, Rob (15 September 2016). "RAAF base at Laverton could be shut down, sold off". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "RAAF Williams". Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Government. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "RAAF Base Williams: Flying Operations". Royal Australian Air Force. Australian Government. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  9. ^ "4 Wing AAFC - VIC". Australian Air Force Cadets. 
  10. ^ Galpin, Darren. "Point Cook". GEL Motorsport Information Page. Retrieved 3 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Walker, Terry (1995). Fast Tracks - Australia's Motor Racing Tracks: 1904-1995. Wahroonga, NSW: Turton & Armstrong. p. 134. ISBN 0908031556. 

External links

  • RAAF Williams at airforce.gov.au
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