In 38 years of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) service my father, Air Commodore Geoffrey William Talbot AFC (Air Force Cross), accumulated more than 7000 flying hours in 75 different aircraft types.
On the 2nd February 1948, aged 16, Geoff joined Air Force as an engineering apprentice, signing on for 15 years.
After the completion of his apprenticeship, he underwent pilot training (Tiger Moths and Wirraways), graduating as a Sergeant pilot in 1954 and accepting permanent commission in October 1958.
He then posted successively to four different fighter squadrons: Mustangs, Meteors, Vampires and Sabres – before becoming an instructor at RAAF bases Point Cook and East Sale.
While serving at East Sale he also became an acceptance pilot for new Vampire Mk 35s from de Havilland, at Bankstown.
On 29th December1958 he left Australia with a young family to attend the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) in the United Kingdom (UK).
My father spent 1959 at Farnborough, flight test training on a wide variety of aircraft types: gliders, helicopters, transports, fighters and bombers.
In 1960 after ETPS came an exchange posting to the UK Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down – a military aircraft testing site.
Geoff joined the fighter test squadron, flight testing mainly Jet Provosts, Hunters and English Electric Lightning aircraft.
He also gained flying experience on many other aircraft types (V Bombers, etc).
During 1959, the RAAF began investigating supersonic aircraft to replace their ageing F-86 Sabres and, being on the spot, Geoff was tasked to evaluate the European contenders: the French Mirage, Belgian F-104G, and the Swedish J-35 Draken. The Mirage was subsequently selected by the RAAF.
Geoff became one of the first Australians to fly at twice the speed of sound when he flew the French Mirage 3A to Mach 2.0 in December 1959.
On 21st January 1964, Geoff was posted to the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at Laverton for test pilot duties on various RAAF aircraft types, but mainly the new Mirage.
Geoff became the Chief Test Pilot at GAF (Government Aircraft Factory) and, on leaving in 1968, had flown all but the last six of the 116 Mirages produced by GAF.
His youngest son was born in Melbourne in May 1964 and Geoff celebrated the occasion- to some official consternation- with a sonic boom over the city (Top Gun style!).
Geoff was awarded the Air Force Cross for his test flight activities and as Officer Commanding Test Flight at ARDU.
He was promoted to Wing Commander and posted to Commanding Officer No. 1 Squadron on 22nd January 1973, to take delivery of the new F-111 aircraft.
Geoff spent 1973 in the United States, accepting the new aircraft from General Dynamics and ferrying them back to RAAF Base Amberley where he was devoted to operational training in the wide range of their all-weather strike capabilities.
The year 1976 saw Geoff’s last flight in an F-111 at Amberley. It was his last flight in command of a RAAF aircraft.
He completed his career in various executive positions at Defence headquarters in Canberra, including being appointed to the position of Australian Aide-de-Camp to the Queen during a Royal tour of Australia.
Air Commodore Geoffrey William Talbot AFC retired from the RAAF on 3rd July 1986 and moved with his wife to a property on the NSW south coast.