A history of the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs
The Royal Victorian Aero Club is a proud member of the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia. The origin of the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia dates back to the 25th October 1914, when a group of young officers of the newly formed Australian Flying Corps met at Point Cook, Victoria, and decided that an Australian Aero Club should be formed and affiliated to the Royal Aero Club in London. The first President was Major H.A. Petre, who had been sent out from England to inaugurate a flying school for the Australian Government and had chosen Point Cook near Melbourne as the most suitable area. The first Secretary was Captain T.W. White, later to become The Hon. Sir Thomas White, K.B.E., D.F.C., V.D.
The outbreak of the First World War delayed further development until 1919, when individual sections of the Australian Aero Club were formed in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian.
The national area club movement as such first come into being in March, 1926, under the name of the Australian Aero Club Federal Council and consisted of representatives of the Victorian and New South Wales Clubs only. South Australia joined in 1927, Queensland and Tasmania in 1928, and Western Australia in 1929, when a new Constitution was adopted and the name changed to the Associated Aero Clubs. The name was again changed to the Aero Club Federation of Australia in 1948. During 1960 the prefix “Royal” was granted by Her Majesty and the present title adopted.
At first the primary object of the movement was to develop interest in flying throughout the Commonwealth. Particular attention was paid to aerial pageants and air races and the organising of public receptions for pioneer aviators at the end of their history flights. These were accompanied by flying displays and were enormously popular and well attended.
The clubs’ defence potential
In the 1930’s however, the aero clubs began to realise their defence potential and to make vigorous representations to the Federal Government for financial assistance which would enable them to train a larger number of pilots at a reasonable cost to the individual.
At the outbreak of war in 1939, several of the larger Clubs were turned into elementary flying training schools and provided the instructors, aircraft and ground maintenance facilities to train cadet pilots for the RAAF which was then able to concentrate on intensive instructor training.
After the war the Clubs were entrusted with the training of National Service Air Training Corps Cadets, General Reservists, University Air Squadron Cadets and some Citizen Air Force Cadets. The official flying time involved was more than 40,000 hours.
Commercial uses for flight training
In later years the emphasis shifted away from the training of pilots for defence purposes and the Government looked to the Aero Clubs to train in ever increasing number of commercial pilots for Australia’s airlines, the rapidly expanding aerial agriculture industry and to meet the demand for charter and personal pilots. The RFACA responded by introducing a unique low cost scheme, the Airline Pilot Training Scheme, the graduates of which are held in high regard by the airline industry.
Today a primary role of the RFACA is the representation of its members at Federal and State Government level’s encouraging the establishment of Flying Training Facilities, and helping to promote the development of all facets of private, sporting and recreational aviation having now included as members, associations currently active in Australia.
Visit the RFACA website here.