Air Vice Marshal Alan Reed (AO)
Alan Reed was born in Albany Western Australia in December 1933. He grew up in East Fremantle and attended Fremantle Boys High School. He was interviewed for his first job as an Accountants Clerk by Sir Charles Court and he worked with Hendry, Rae and Court until he was called up for national service training in the RAAF in June 1952.
Having "become airborne" for the first time in a Dakota (DC3) he decided that a flying career was more exciting and suited him better than auditing and getting purple ink on his fingers and he applied for pilot training in the RAAF. Alan was selected for No 13 Pilots Course which began training at Archerfield in Queensland on Tiger Moths in May 1953 and he was one of the thirteen (out of 26 who started) who was awarded his wings in July 1954.
As a brand new Sergeant Pilot, Alan was posted to the maritime role flying long nose Lincoln aircraft with No 10 Squadron in Townsville. Whilst there he was commissioned, assessed as "above average" and made Captain of his own crew. In 1958, jets called and after a jet conversion on Vampires, he began a long and very satisfying period flying the beautiful "lady of the sky" the Canberra bomber firstly in No 1 Squadron at Amberley.
Highlights included becoming with his navigator, the first A category crew in the Wing and participating in several overseas deployments including flying one of three Canberras around the world to participate in the Nigerian Independence celebrations in October 1960. He was then selected for an exchange tour on Canberras in the Royal Air Force but shortly before planned departure (and marriage to his Scottish sweetheart Aileen) the posting was cancelled and he returned to Amberley and later to Malaya still flying Canberras.
A tour as a flight commander at the RAAF Academy followed and after completing Staff College in 1966, he was promoted to squadron leader and selected for the first pick up of the F111. During refresher training, he was advised that he had been selected for exchange with the US Air Force to fly the then top fighter aircraft in the world, the Phantom RF4C. He was very lucky as the F111 was delayed for several years. At that time, the Phantom held most aviation records including, altitude, speed and time to altitude. It was a major leap from a Canberra and on arriving at Shaw Air Force Base, beginning training on the Phantom and realizing that his job was to train US pilots and navigators to fight in Vietnam, he decided that he needed to get some combat experience himself to give him experience in reconnaissance and credibility in his job.
He approached the senior USAF officer at Shaw as well as the Australian Embassy in Washington and put in process, gaining approval from both governments to do an assignment flying Phantoms in Vietnam. After several months, approval was finally granted and he was assigned to the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Tan Son Nhut base (Saigon) to fly for six months temporary duty as the only Australian pilot in the entire wing of five squadrons. As the USAF could not order him as a foreign national to Vietnam, they issued "Invitational Orders" with the Secretary of the Air Force inviting him to proceed on operational duty to Vietnam. He thus claims to be one of the few people to be "invited to attend a war!" The USAF was not going to let him go to a war zone unless he was well prepared and he completed the USAF Survival Course which included snow survival, the Sea Survival course and the Jungle Survival course in the Philippines before arriving for his tour of operational duty in Vietnam.
What followed was excellent experience flying low level reconnaissance missions in all of South Vietnam and as the RAAF had advised USAF that the only constraint on him was not to fly into Cambodia, the USAF assigned him to "out country" missions including North Vietnam and Laos. After returning to Shaw with this excellent experience, he quickly became a training flight commander and had an enjoyable and rewarding time as an instructor. For his service with the USAF in Vietnam, he was awarded the US Forces Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster.
On return to Australia, he paid his dues as Staff Officer for the F111 followed by command of No 6 Squadron which by then was equipped with Phantoms to fill the gap left by the delayed F111l. He was selected as a student on Joint Service Staff College and this was followed by a tour as an instructor at the College. A tour in charge of flying training in the RAAF followed promotion to group captain and then selection as the senior officer flying the Flll at Amberley was the real and very satisfying end of his operational flying of high performance aircraft.
On completion of this marvellous tour, he was promoted to Air Commodore and posted as Commandant of the RAAF Academy at Point Cook. A most enjoyable tour as Air Attache in Washington came on completion of this assignment. After three years in Washington, his final posting on promotion to Air Vice Marshal was as Air Officer Commanding Support Command in Melbourne.
Alan was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1989. He retired from the RAAF in November 1990 and established his own consultancy business. Alan considers he had a wonderful career flying the most advanced aircraft of their time. He believes the RAAF is a vastly different service to the one he joined nearly 60 years ago and he had the best of it. Having started his career on Tiger Moths he got a big kick out of flying his restored Tiger which he recently donated to the Temora Air Museum. His philosophy was that if you don't have a F111, a Tiger Moth is the next best thing.
Alan was married to Aileen Purvis. They had recently celebrated 60 years of marriage. There are two sons and five gorgeous grand daughters.
As he said, life is good.