Host: Dave Homewood
Guest: Noel Kruse
Duration: 1 hour 37 seconds
Topic: Following the completion of his operational tour at Butterworth, RAAF Sabre pilot Noel Kruse was hoping on his return to Australia to be placed onto a Fighter Instructor’s Course. However to his shock and dismay he found he was actually posted to the Testing and Ferry Flight, No. 3 Aircraft Depot, at RAAF Amberley – a unit he’d never heard of. He became the only fighter pilot on a bomber base and immediately thought his life was over.
However his initial disappointment soon disappeared and he found he was gaining real interest in his new role as a test pilot. In fact he soon grew to love it. Noel’s job was taking completely rebuilt CAC Sabres that had just rolled out from Category E maintenance like new, and flying them to the limits to test all their systems before they returned to service.
He would then ferry the Sabre back to its unit and pick up the next worn out aircraft there to return to Amberley for rebuild.
Noel’s knowledge and experience continued expand rapidly on the big learning curve of being a test pilot. This was nurtured by his boss, and mentor, Group Captain Jim Rowland, who had been through WWII as a Pathfinder and then done the elite Empire Test Pilots School programme. Jim later rose to the Chief of Air Force in the RAAF, and then became Governor of New South Wales.
In testing aircraft to their limits much could go wrong, and often it did. This led to many high adventures (and a few very low ones) for Noel, who tells us all about them and his time testing the CAC Sabres at Amberley here.
By the way the small music clip at the end is Magic Ghost from Danosongs