By Staff Writer | August 1, 2008
July 1 marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Australian Army Aviation Corps. Veterans and current members of the corps are to commemorate the occasion at the 40th Formal Birthday Dinner Aug. 5.
Though the corps was created in 1968, Australia Army aviation dates back to World War I and even some of the current units pre-date establishment of the corps.
For instance, according to the Australian Army Aviation Assn, 1 Aviation Regiment traces its origins to the combination of the Royal Australian Air Force’s 16 Air Observation Post Flight and 1 Army Aviation Co. into 16 Army Light Aircraft Sqdn in December 1960. Command of that unit passed from the Air Force to the Army in December 1964.
On Apr. 26, 1966, the unit name changed to 1st Divisional Aviation Regiment, so that is considered its official birthday. Eleven months later, it was renamed 1st Aviation Regiment. It included three squadrons: 16 Aviation Sqdn (Reconnaissance), 17 Aviation Sqdn (Training), and 18 Aviation Sqdn (Headquarters), though the headquarters unit was not raised at the time.
Until 1972, according to the association, the 1st Aviation Regiment was the only Army flying unit on the order of battle. It provides aerial reconnaissance and firepower in support of combat operations in a joint, combined or interagency environment.
161 Reconnaissance Flight was raised at RAAF Base Amberley in June 1965 to support Australian involvement in Vietnam. It later fell under 1 Aviation Regiment. In 6.5 years of duty there, the unit flew 72,000 hr and lost three pilots and 13 aircraft. Its personnel were awarded 14 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a U.S. Bronze Star and the U.S. Army Meritorious Unit Citation. The 5th Aviation Regiment, at RAAF Base Townsville in Queensland, is responsible for aviation tactical assault, air mobility and operational support to the land and special forces. It was formed through the November 1986 decision to transfer operation of all battlefield helicopters from the Air Force to the Army. A new unit, 6 Aviation Regiment, was formed in March.