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Welcome to RICHMOND!

The 1st of July 2015 marks the 90th Anniversary of No.3 Squadron’s inauguration of RAAF operations at Richmond Air Base. 
(At that time, only a single lonely hangar and one small support building were on the site.  These were left-overs from the activities of the
NSW State Aviation School in WW1.)   

The press articles below describe the Squadron’s flight from Point Cook to Richmond.  
Of 11 aircraft that set off on a two-day movement plan, only three planes arrived, dodging their way between storms and rainbows…      
– A somewhat more eventful journey than the one-hour jet trip today! 

 
Photo Montage from The Daily Telegraph, Wed. 1/7/1925.
Original Caption -  “How the Richmond air base is being established.  The first three planes of this important extension of the Australian Air Force arrived from Point Cook yesterday. 
The subjects are: (Top left) The first of the SE5As [A2-26] taxiing to the hangar.  (Centre) FLTLT F.W. Lukis, officer in charge of the base, whose machine was  the first of the fleet to arrive.  (Top right) His machine, a DH9. 
(Bottom left) FLTLT G. Malley who, with FLTLT Les Holden (bottom right), arrived in charge of two single-seater scouts.  Both are citizen force officers with distinguished war records. 
(Lower centre) A group of the rank and file at Richmond.  Soon there will be 58 permanent air craftsmen at the base.”

From - The Age - Tuesday 30 June 1925.

AEROPLANE FLEET TO RICHMOND - FLIGHT THROUGH RIVERINA

WAGGA. — Ten aeroplanes flew over Wagga on Monday from Point Cook, Victoria. The first flight of three machines passed Wagga at 1.30 p.m., having made a non-stop flight from Melbourne to Cootamundra. The second flight, of four machines, passed over the town at 3.30, having landed first at Benalla, and then went on to Cootamundra for the night.  The third section, of three, arrived at Wagga about 4.40, and landed on the show grounds, remaining there overnight.  These planes had arrived at Benalla at noon, and left for Wagga at 2.30.  The officers here are Messrs. Sutherland, Wilson and Murphy.

 

- The Argus (Melbourne) - Wednesday 1 July 1925. 

FLIGHT TO RICHMOND.  Mishaps to Aeroplanes.

Sydney, Tuesday.  Four SE5A and three Avro aeroplanes left Cootamundra at 9 o'clock this morning on their journey from Point Cook to Richmond.  Owing to the soft ground at Gunning, one SE5A machine, piloted by Squadron-Leader Cole, overturned while attempting to land, and was slightly damaged.  Another SE5A machine, piloted by Flight-Officer Handley, was forced to descend four miles north of Gunning owing to engine trouble.  Two machines reached Goulburn safely.  The three Avro machines were delayed owing to low fog in the mountains.  The fog was very thick around Goulburn, and the aeroplanes landed in paddocks near Bundanoon.  Two machines, piloted by Flight-officers Murphy and Sutherland, were slightly damaged.  The third machine, piloted by Flight-Officer Wilson, made a safe landing, and will continue the flight to Richmond tomorrow.

Flight-Lieutenant Lukis, in a DH9 aeroplane, made a non-stop flight from Cootamundra to Richmond.  Two SE5 aeroplanes, piloted by Flight-Lieutenants Holden and Malley, arrived later.  

When he alighted, Flight-Lieutenant Lukis was blue and shivering, and scarcely able to talk.  For a considerable distance he had flown at an altitude of 8,000ft.

 

- Cootamundra Herald - Wednesday 1 July 1925.

THE AEROPLANES

Yesterday morning the three training machines of No.3 Squadron of the Australian Air Force that had stopped at Wagga, on their flight from Point Cook to Richmond, continued their journey.  They left Wagga at 8.30am, following the seven aeroplanes that had passed over Wagga and had stopped at Cootamundra on Monday.

 

- The Age - Wednesday 1 July 1925.

AIR FORCE FLIGHT.  MACHINES BOGGED IN MUD.

SYDNEY. - Of the eleven planes which left Point Cook for Richmond (N.S.W.) only three machines completed the trip on Tuesday.  The first machine, which was to show the way to the others, came to grief through engine trouble at Benalla.  The other ten left the R.A.A.F. headquarters in a body on Monday morning…  On alighting at Gunning the machines struck trouble in the form of deep mud, which covered the landing ground.  One plane was overturned and three subsided in the mud.  Of the four machines which were to leave Gunning, only three arrived at Richmond.  Although no word has been received at Richmond regarding the eleventh plane, no apprehension is felt regarding its safety.  It is thought that it had more trouble with the mud, and became so firmly rooted that it could not take off on the last stage of the journey.  The minimum time for the complete trip was made by a DH9, piloted by Lieutenant Lukis, which took 30 hours to make the trip.


Painting by Phil Belbin which currently hangs in the Officer' Mess Richmond RAAF.  It shows the nervous crowd of 3SQN ground-crew waiting in the shelter of the Richmond
hangar, just as Flt Lt. Frank Lukis's DH-9 [A6-5] appeared amongst the storm clouds on 30 June 1925.  A signal fire on the ground was all that there was to show wind direction.
Popular legend has it that a rainbow appeared at that moment...

- Richmond and Windsor Gazette - Friday 17 July 1925.

"Best In The World"

RICHMOND AERODROME
WELCOME TO AIRMEN

"I have seen many grounds in various parts of the world, and can say that the Richmond site is easily the best."  This was the opinion expressed by Flight-Lieut. Lukis, officer commanding No.3 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force which was tendered a citizen's welcome in the Richmond School of Arts last week.

THERE was no mistaking the warmth of the welcome tendered by the people of Richmond to the officers and men of No.3 Squadron of the R.A.A.F. in the local School of Arts on Wednesday evening of last week.  The residents are jubilant over the permanent establishment of the Squadron in their midst, and they turned out in large numbers to join in the citizens' welcome.  Dr. W. M. Helsham presided, and the evening's entertainment took the form of some speechifying, interspersed with musical items, followed by supper and a dance.  Flight-Lieut. Lukis, O.C. occupied a seat  on the stage alongside the chairman, and included among the other guests were: —
Flight-Lieut. Hepburn, Flight-Officers Murphy, Duncan, McKinolty, Sutherland, Flight Sergeant Carroll, Sergeant-Major Chester, Sergeant Thacker, L.A.C's. Taylor, Hunt Badge, Smith, Eddison, Fletcher, A. N. Taylor, Corporals Wordsworth, Hackfath, Air-Craftsmen Walkington, Norris, Steele, Strong, Davey, Blue, Melville, Relf, Murray, Glassford; Hackinson, Beeston, Cook, Foley, Waddell and Walker.

The proceedings opened with the National Anthem, after which apologies were announced on behalf of the Mayor (Ald. J. T. Drayton), Mr. A. G. Manning, M.P., Mr. W. R. Fitzsimons, M.L.A., Principal E. A. Southee, O.B.E., Mr. Devlin (Commercial Bank, Richmond), and Rev. M. Walker.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Helsham said they welcomed the Air Force to Richmond because they wanted them, and the establishment of the No.3 Squadron here meant a big thing for the district.  He hoped they would stay quite a long time and that they would have a pleasant sojourn in the Hawkesbury.  Some of the officers informed him that Point Cook was an "awful hole," but he assured them they would not find Richmond and the surrounding district that bad.  He expressed the hope that before long up-to-date and commodious quarters would be built for them, and that they would become more accomplished in the occupations they had chosen.  It was a splendid thing for the district to have a permanent Air Force established in their midst, and although they did not wish another war to happen no one could tell when it might, and then they would realise the protection the Richmond Squadron would afford them.  For that reason the whole district should be proud to have the officers and men here, and the people should do their utmost to make their stay as happy and pleasant as possible.  On behalf of the citizens he extended to Flight-Lieut. Lukis, his officers and men, a hearty welcome to the district.  (Applause).

Rev. F. J. Dillon spoke, in a humorous vein.  He candidly admitted that he knew nothing about flight-lieutenants or captains, but, nevertheless, he joined in welcoming them and hoped that not a few of the men would come along to church! Richmond would do all it possibly could to make their stay happy, and he trusted they would take an interest in the church.  He felt sure there were many singers among them, and would like to see them join the choir and soar to heaven like larks.  (Laughter).  He assured them that they would always find a warm welcome at the Rectory, and he would be pleased to see them on the tennis court.  "Sometimes we play a love game on our court," continued the rev. gentleman, with a merry twinkle in his eye, "and if you happen to play that game you will find the church near at hand and I will do the rest." (Laughter).  Continuing, the speaker remarked that when the late Captain Stutt resided in Richmond weddings were very slow, and in order to make them more popular he suggested that after he performed the ceremony Captain Stutt should take the parties for a trip to heaven (Laughter).  But, unfortunately the Opportunity never presented itself, still he continued the suggestion to the airmen now in their midst.  (Laughter).  He felt sure that the Richmond people would do everything they could to make their guests' stay as happy and pleasant as possible.  (Applause) .

Rev. W. R. Milne supported the sentiments expressed, and said they looked upon aviators as very important people.  They realised their responsibilities and the grave risks they took, and looked upon them as their future defenders.  The men who constituted the unit, therefore, claimed not only their admiration, but also their sympathy and encouragement.  He assured them that the citizens' welcome was a very sincere one, and trusted their stay, would be happy and that they would find the surrounding country congenial to their taste.  (Applause).

Mr. B. B. Walker M.L.A., was pleased to join in the expressions of welcome.  He said they had been waiting for a long time for a permanent Air Force to be established at Richmond, and at last they had achieved their objective.  The speaker gave a brief sketch of the history of the aerodrome, which, he said, was established during the Great War by the State Education Department and was in charge of the late Captain Stutt.  After the war the State relinquished the training of aviators, but they prevailed upon Mr. James, who was Minister for Education at that time, to continue with training courses for commercial purposes.  Subsequently, however, the matter got beyond the power of the State, and the aerodrome was about to be dismantled when a deputation waited on Mr. Bruntnell, who succeeded Mr. James, as Minister for Education, and prevailed upon him to consult the Commonwealth Government with a view to purchase.  This effort was successful, and the State effected a deal with Mr. Bowden, Federal Minister for Defence, with the result that the aerodrome was now controlled by the Commonwealth.  The site was equal to anything in the world, added Mr. Walker, and this opinion was expressed by General Pau, who came out with the French Mission, and whom he (the speaker) was deputed by the Government to show over the 'drome.  He felt sure that Richmond would soon become a rival to Point Cook, and the Hawkesbury district was proud to welcome the men who came from Melbourne to put Richmond on the map.  This spot was particularly favored at the present time, and Richmond should soon become one of the most influential towns in New South Wales.  (Applause).


RICHMOND AERODROME
Where No.3 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force has now
been permanently established.

They were situated close to the city, the Hawkesbury College was close by, and a railway was now being constructed to Kurrajong.  (Derisive laughter).  There was no reason, therefore, why the town should not progress and become one of the principal suburbs of Sydney.  They extended a hearty welcome to the men, but regretted that they were unable to secure accommodation owing to the shortage of houses.  As the Squadron was a permanent one, however, it would be an incentive for the people to build, and he expressed the hope that the difficulty now experienced would soon be overcome.  Aviation was going to play a big part in the future development of Australia, continued Mr. Walker.  There was no doubt that in future wars — but he hoped there would never be another one — the fighting would be done from the air, whilst this means of transport was at the present time playing a big part in the commercial life of the Commonwealth.  In Queensland, where motor cars could not travel over the soft black soil, aeroplanes were used by station-owners as a means of transport, and before long this would be a common thing throughout the other States.  He trusted that the airmen would have a pleasant stay in the Hawkesbury, whose citizens would look forward with pleasure to the purring of their engines as they flew over the different townships reminding them that they are the protectors of the future.  (Applause).

Mr. B. E. Sullivan said he was proud to join in the welcome to such an important body of men.  They would find the Richmond people a very warm-hearted community, and the airmen would be welcome wherever they went.  They were particularly grateful to the Government for establishing the Squadron in the district, and had to thank Messrs Hibble, Bowden, and Manning, M.P., for the success achieved.  He noticed by the Press that the Federal Government intended to spend something like £177,000 to re-construct the aerodrome; so they would see what a big thing it meant for the district.  As previous speakers had remarked it was certainly going to 'put Richmond on the map.' (Applause).

Mr. A. P. Biddle said that during the war they had a good deal of experience, with the men of the Air Force, and they knew what a splendid lot of chaps they were.  He felt sure that the present Squadron would keep up that high reputation.  Richmond was not a very big place and they did not have many facilities to offer the men, but what they did have the airmen were heartily welcome to.  He expressed the hope that they would take an active part in the social life of the town,
and that their tennis, cricket, and football teams would be strengthened by the inclusion of men from the Squadron.  The shortage of houses was a big drawback, in view of the fact that some of the men were married and had families who were compelled to live apart from them until such time as suitable dwellings were erected.  The Richmond people, however, would try and make them feel at home and they would be welcome at all their social functions and at the various sports the town and district had to offer.  (Applause) .

Mr. W. R. Goodman said he knew what it was to be transferred from one town to another, but assured the airmen that they would find the Richmond people a most hospitable and warm-hearted community.  He did not know much about Point Cook, but he knew Richmond was the best.  He referred to the good comradeship which existed in the various sports in the town, and assured the men they would find a warm welcome wherever they went.  (Applause) .

Mr. Soutar expressed the hope that the airmen's stay in Richmond, whether long or short, would be the happiest of their lives.  (Applause).

Dr. Helsham: That's the best speech of the night.  (Laughter).

Flight-Lieut. Lukis had a splendid reception when he rose to acknowledge the citizens' welcome.  He remarked that none of the men felt like strangers in Richmond, because from the very first day they arrived the people had shown so much kindness to them.  He stated that he had seen many grounds in various parts of the world and he could only say that the Richmond site was easily the best.  The Government could not have chosen a more ideal spot.  Their job was a very serious one, but they hoped to combine the work of training with the sports in Richmond.  At Point Cook some 500 men were connected with aviation, and it was quite a township of its own, having its own cricket and football teams.  As a matter of fact Point Cook beat the Melbourne Cricket Club, which had the International player, H. L. Hendry, as its skipper.  When properly established the Squadron would be a neighboring town, and he hoped that the same kindly relations which existed at present between the people of Richmond and the Royal Australian Air Force would continue.  (Applause).

Dr. Helsham asked the O.C. if he would like to call on any of his comrades to support his remarks, but when he rose to reply there was an uneasy shuffle of feet among the men, but their faces brightened considerably when he remarked that they were all young men and would sooner get "on with the dance." Subsequently, however, the innocent-looking Flight-Officer McKinolty, who appears to be very popular among his comrades, was called upon to give his testimony.  He endorsed the remarks of his chief, and said they had been greeted in the very best spirit by the people of Richmond.  He felt sure that the Richmond base would extend and expand until it even rivalled Point Cook.  He hoped that as they became more efficient airmen they would also become closer and better friends.  (Applause).

A dainty supper was provided by the ladies, after which a dance was held and continued until midnight.  The music was voluntarily supplied by Miss Dot Smith with extras by Messrs H. Paull, Gibson and P. Campbell.  The majority of the airmen are good dancers, and they joined whole-heartedly in the enjoyment and had a real jolly time.  Several musical number were interspersed among the speeches, and those who contributed towards this part of the evening's enjoyment were Miss Stella Gates, who played the overture.  Miss L. Smith sang 'My Dear Soul,' and Mr. Bennett, who possesses a fine bass voice of splendid range, was encored for his number, 'On the road to Mandalay.' Later he sang 'The Company Sergeant-Major.' Mrs. Vercoe sang 'In an old fashioned town,' and had to respond to an encore.  The accompaniments were played by Miss Gates .

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