“A great piece of RAN FAA history collected and catalogued.” – Captain Andrew Craig, RAN Rtd
“The book has a direct and light touch, with engaging personal anecdotes, The descriptions of carrier deck landings verge on the thrilling . It’s a great read. There is an account of the subsequent careers of these men – it pulls no punches. The sadness of the unthinking reception these graduates received from those trained in the ‘Australian’ way is properly emphasised. This is a valuable contribution to RAN history.” – Mike O’Brien, Review RUSI VIC
Flying from an aircraft carrier is one of the most difficult things to do in all of aviation. This is the story of a group of young Australians who joined the Royal Australian Navy to take up that challenge in the mid-1960s. Their story is unique because, unlike those who went before them and those who followed, they were sent to the USA to undertake their flying training with the United States Navy. So began an unusual chapter in the story of the Royal Australian Navy. ‘The Pensacola experiment’, as it was called, was an outstanding success.
This book follows the young men’s initial and sometimes almost accidental encounters with the Navy recruiting office to their arrival as fully fledged naval aviators at the Naval Air Station Nowra, NSW, ready to join their first squadrons.
A mix of narrative and often hilarious personal anecdotes takes you along for the ride with the group as they land at the US Naval Air Station Pensacola, meet their host families, and learn to adapt to American culture in a huge training system that turned out thousands of naval aviators each year, many of them destined for the war in Vietnam at the time.
Readers will share in the growing sense of excitement and satisfaction as these young aviators work towards their initial carrier qualifications and ultimately gain their coveted ‘Wings of Gold’.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
“Have just received my copy of “Wings of Gold” and am most impressed. Not only is it a great story but the excellent photographs bring it very much alive. It was a stroke of a genius … to show the “then and now” personal photos. It was an ambitious project and it worked so well thanks to you guys. I am proud to have been part of it.” – Commodore Toz Dadswell, AM, RAN Rtd: Staff Officer Aviation in the Australian Embassy, Washington, 1967-68
“I have just spent a lovely afternoon reading “Wings of Gold” – congratulations it is a great effort and treats its subject with an appropriate mix of gravitas, fun and joy!” – Commodore David Farthing, DSC, RAN Rtd: Course Officer at HMAS Cerberus for all the Midshipmen who went to Pensacola.
“‘Wings of Gold’ turned up in my mailbox yesterday. What a splendid volume it is! It caused me to do something I haven’t done for longer than I can remember – sit down and read a book straight through from cover to cover.A great piece of RAN FAA history collected and catalogued.” – Captain Andrew Craig, RAN Rtd
“Congratulation’s for a valuable and well put together addition to the history of the Fleet Air Arm. I am a former naval aviator and contemporary of the authors though not involved in the Pensacola Project. I should have known much more about that time in my life but didn’t. Thanks to this book many gaps have been filled, many happy memories re-ignited, and some sadness revealed.” – Lieutenant Commander Murray Smythe, RAN Rtd