Lasting tribute to ‘father of Air Force’
The sculpture of Sir Richard Williams in Moonta, South Australia. Photo: LAC Stewart Gould
To commemorate 100 years of Air Force, the Copper Coast Council in South Australia held a centenary celebration to honour the ‘father of Air Force’, Sir Richard Williams.
Born in Moonta Mines, South Australia in 1890, Sir Richard was instrumental in the formation of the Royal Australian Air Force in 1921 and its continued development between the wars.
Appointed the first Chief of Air Staff of the RAAF, he served in the position three different times for a total of 13 years, rising to the rank of Air Marshal.
Group Captain Greg Weller, RAAF Edinburgh’s assistant SADFO and responsible for community engagement, said he had been working closely with the Copper Coast Council and Air Force Association for more than a year on the celebrations, which were a keynote event for the Air Force centenary in South Australia.
“In a fitting tribute to the most significant figure in the history of the RAAF, the Copper Coast Council and the people of Moonta came together to have a wonderful park sculpture of Sir Richard Williams and a plaque telling his story of achievement emplaced in his home town of Moonta,” Group Captain Weller said.
“We hope the sculpture will inspire generations to come to achieve from humble beginnings just like Sir Richard Williams.”
The statue was unveiled by Governor of South Australia Frances Adamson and the plaque was unveiled by President Air Force Association (South Australia) Dr Robert Black.
The celebrations comprised a street parade including RAAF Base Edinburgh members and Army and Air Force Cadets, a RAAF PC-21 flypast, a vintage aircraft flypast comprising a DHC-1 Chipmunk, DH-82 Tiger Moths and DH-94 Moth Minor as well as a RAAF PC-21; a VIP lunch at the Moonta Town Hall and a thanksgiving service at the Moonta Mines Uniting Church.
“The thanksgiving church service was a particularly poignant part of the event, bringing together Sir Richard Williams’ family members, Army, Navy and Air Force personnel, cadets, South Australian dignitaries and local community members to celebrate the achievements of an extraordinary man in the church that Sir Richard Williams attended as a youth,” Group Captain Weller said.
“The celebrations were a keynote event of our AF2021 calendar of events in South Australia and an incredible opportunity to showcase Sir Richard Williams’ achievements and Air Force’s heritage with the South Australian community.”
Acting senior Air Force representative South Australia Group Captain Pete Mitchell presented the Copper Coast Council mayor and the Moonta RSL president with an AF2021 framed print to thank the Moonta Community for acknowledging Sir Richard during the Air Force centenary.