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Wings of Gold

The Story of Australian Pilots and Observers Who Trained with the United States Navy 1966–1968

Aviation, Military History
153mm x 230mm Full Colour

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’.

Trevor Rieck

Trevor Rieck

Trevor Rieck flew with three Navies as a helicopter pilot; he trained with the United States Navy, served as a helicopter pilot and staff officer in the Royal Australian Navy and on exchange with the Royal Navy instructing helicopter pilots. In retirement, after 20 years in the Navy and 20 years in the Australian construction […]

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Jack McCaffrie

Jack McCaffrie

Jack McCaffrie is a retired Commodore RAN, whose flying career was spent mainly in Grumman S2-E/G Trackers, flying from HMAS Melbourne and NAS Nowra. Currently he is a visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong and the University of NSW at the Defence Academy.  His most recent book, co-authored, is Navies of Southeast Asia: A […]

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Jed Hart

Jed Hart

Jed Hart joined the navy as a seaman midshipman, served at sea during the Indonesian confrontation of Malaysia then changed to aircrew in late 1966. After wings award in Pensacola he was posted to the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam and flew with the US Army’s 135th Assault Helicopter Company. Jed left the navy in 1970 […]

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