Gordon spent 20 years in the RAAF as an aircraft Radio Technician, working on F-111 strike aircraft, Iroquois helicopters, Chinook helicopters, Canberra bombers, HS-748 navigation trainers, P-3C maritime patrol and a pre-Vietnam era Sabre jet.
One of the ground crew, featured by the fire extinguisher remained Gordon’s lifelong friend until he passed away in 2022. The image brings up mixed emotions, of excitement and adventure from a time gone by, tinged with sadness for the passing of a friend. That encapsulates life in an operational squadron where it was sadly not uncommon for us to experience the grief filled lows from loss of aircrew in accidents contrasted with the exciting highs of deployments to new locations and being part of a team making an enormously complex aircraft operate on time, any time.
Of the Point & Shoot exhibition, Gordon says, ‘I’m honoured to share some of my memories. I look back on my service with great fondness, but in doing so always recall the comrades we lost. All too often aircraft didn’t return from training missions and people in the prime of their lives, with whom we deployed, celebrated life and laughed with, suddenly became names on a plaque, only to live on in our memories.’
‘F-111C A8-148 engine start using an explosive cartridge. The aircraft is loaded out with a live and inert Mk-82 500lb bombs.
The black gases from the starter cartridge are created using carbon granules so the ground crew can view and observe their drift and move away from the toxic cloud emitted. A cartridge start is an event not often conducted.
Gordon Ross, RAAF Base East Sale, Vic, 1978