3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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Air Force Cross.  
1 October 1939 to 18 May 2021. 
Aged 81 years.
[3SQN Commanding Officer 14/3/77 to 7/3/79.]

Bruce began his spectacular RAAF career on 20 January 1958, upon entry to No.11 Course at RAAF College, Point Cook.  He was a popular member during this four-year course (spanning the period when RAAF College changed to RAAF Academy) and graduated with “flying colours”. 

– He won the top three academic prizes: the Sword of Honour, the Flying Trophy and the Queen's Medal.
Plus full sporting Colours for Basketball, Tennis, Hockey, and Cricket.

Consequently Bruce was posted to fighters.  In 1965/66, while at 2OCU, Bruce was selected to be a member of “The Marksmen” aerobatic display team, flying Sabres.  In 1971 the RAAF’s 50th Jubilee entailed major efforts to mount public displays and 77 SQN formed a dedicated Mirage aerobatic team, “The Deltas”.

The Deltas.

Bruce, a 77 SQN Flight Commander, was unexpectedly thrust into leadership of this team by popular acclaim! 
[He was obviously a “Pilot’s Pilot” – as described in the excellent illustrated article: “Winging It with The Deltas”.]

In 1977, Bruce was promoted to CO3 at Butterworth.  His leadership coincided with 3SQN’s “last” aircraft loss. 
(Not Bruce’s fault of course; these things do happen with single-engined aircraft!  Brenton CROWHURST ejected from A3-94 on 5/12/77, at night, after an engine failure, parachuting without serious injury.)

This famous RAAF publicity photo was taken west of Penang Island on 13 December 1977. 
[The fins of two of the jets were specially-painted at Butterworth to provide the full sequence of RAAF Mirage operators up to that time.]
The order is: ARDU - 2OCU - 75 SQN - 76 SQN - 3 SQN - 77 SQN.
Bruce, as CO3, flew his personal 3SQN Mirage - A3-100.  (5th in line.)
- This plane was later "re-named" A3-1000 when Bruce flew his 1,000th Mirage hour!

Marty SUSANS, in The Mirage Story, records that Bruce's call-sign was "BRUCE"…  [Very practical!]  

A highlight of Bruce’s lengthy RAAF career was his conducting of flight evaluations of contenders for Australia’s Mirage fighter replacement.  In 1980 Bruce was posted to Washington as Staff Officer - Tactical Fighter Project.  He became the first Australian to fly the F-18, on April 19, 1980.

After leaving the RAAF in 1985, Bruce worked as Flight Safety Manager with Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong for many years.  Then, after a period at Emirates, he retired to the golf courses of the Gold Coast.  Bruce died on Tuesday 18th May 2021 after an intense battle with cancer.  He was farewelled at a private family gathering. 

Bruce once wrote, as an Obituary to another flyer:
"We were members of the ‘Old School'.  - Kick the tyres and light the fires, first into the air LEADS."

[Text by James Oglethorpe, with thanks to FSB.]

3 Squadron LIFETIMES

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