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Len Waters may have been born behind the gates of an Aboriginal reserve, but his big imagination and even bigger dreams took him soaring well beyond the reach of those who tried to confine him.
Kamilaroi man Len Waters dreamed of taking to the skies. It was an unlikely dream at the time, but during WWII he beat the odds to become Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot.
Rules and restrictions controlled much of Len’s early life. Born in the 1920s, Len had a basic education and life was lacking in luxury. But Len had a sharp mind. He had a boundless work ethic. Len also had big dreams and a family who supported them. Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly takes readers on Len Waters’ soaring journey from making his home-made model aeroplanes at his kitchen table, to flying RAAF fighter jets in the south west Pacific in World War II.
Len was a history maker, a young man who didn’t let society’s prejudice, his culture or skin colour stand in his way. But when WWII was over, Len sadly discovered that his service and courage did not result in equality. Len once said that, out of his RAAF uniform, he simply ‘returned to being a black fellow’.
Today, decades later, Len’s determination and achievements are recognised and honoured across Australia.