The HKAAF / RHKAAF left its mark on all those who gave service. The experience influenced many in how they continued their lives after leaving the unit. The careers of some changed direction whilst the leisure time of others was greatly affected. The following gives some of their post-Auxies stories:-
John Owen left HK in 1989, lives most of the time in San Francisco but commutes regularly to Sydney, where he has a book publishing business. Since 1991 he has owned a 1941 Tiger Moth, which he had restored and has flown regularly since. The ‘plane resides in Luskintyre airfield, a 200-acre privately owned airfield near Newcastle in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, about two hours drive from Sydney. Luskintyre’s aim is the preservation and operation of vintage aircraft – particularly the de-Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth. John has several hundred hours in Tiger Moths in Australia and UK. John met Dawn Low, his wife of 31 years, in HK which helps explain the registration of his aircraft.
Since 1996 John has also been involved in the building of a replica Vickers Vimy, 75-foot wingspan World War I bomber, which recreated three major historical flights, including the 1919 Smith brothers flight from England to Australia and the Alcock & Brown flight of the same year across the Atlantic. In 2010 the flying replica was donated to the Brooklands Flying Museum and in late 2011 John will publish a coffee table book chronicling the flights.
* * *
Paul Radcliffe joined the HKAAF whilst on secondment to the Independent Commission Against Corruption from the Greater Manchester Police Force. He decided a flying career would give him more satisfaction than policing so on completion of his contract with the ICAC he joined the full-time staff of the RHKAAF in 1988. To further his aviation career he left Hong Kong for the UK in 1990 and set about obtaining UK civil licenses. From 1991 to 1994 he was flying a corporate King Air around Europe. In 1994 he joined Directflight, which provided aerial surveillance for DEFRA and the Scottish Office in relation to fisheries around UK waters, becoming Chief Pilot and eventually Director of Operations. It was during his period with DEFRA that his many hours of dawn and dusk patrols of the South China Sea looking for Illegal Immigrants proved very valuable. In 2002 he joined the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK as a Licensing Standards Inspector, where, he was eventually promoted to Head of Policy in the Personnel Licensing Department, from where he retired in March 2011.
From that date he has concentrated on his 57 ft narrow-boat, intending to travel as much of the canal system in the UK as possible before old age and/or poverty catch up with him.
* * *
John Lockwood arrived in HK under contract with the Inchcape Group, and armed with a PPL gained in Rhodesia. He soon joined the HKAAF and advanced his flying skills in Austers before converting to Helicopters. John left the Auxies and Hong Kong in 1970, having decided that aviation was where his future lay. Initially he flew tourists around Hawaii then went on to become a Bell 212 training captain with Bristows, where he put to good use the training he himself had received and the lessons learned in the Auxies. He went on to start his own helicopter company, with bases in Texas and Louisiana, wrapping up a very satisfying flying career.
One flight of which John has vivid memories is the rescue, in November 1972, of six men trapped atop the blazing roof of a burning high rise office building in downtown New Orleans. For this he was awarded the FAA Extraordinary Service Award, the AVCO/AWA Helicopter Heroism Award and keys to the City of New Orleans. Those six men can be thankful for the thorough helicopter training given to John by Flt Lt Jeff Jeffrey in 1968.
Throughout his aviation career John was ever grateful to Flt Lt Fred Penny for giving him such a thorough training and for instilling in him the importance of good airmanship. This, he has no doubt, played an important part in his reaching 10,180 flying hours accident free.
John shares his retirement between Houston and Oklahoma, where he is kept busy as a Disaster Action Team Leader with the American Red Cross.
* * *
Adrian Swire left the HKAAF in 1961 and then became based in the UK. However he retained close links with Hong Kong, for example as a director of Cathay Pacific Airways, a position he held for forty years. He bought a Mk.lX Spitfire MH 434 in 1969, which he flew regularly until 1982. From 1973 he also owned Rapide G-AKIF, now based at Duxford, which he flew until 2011 when he decided, after 60 years of flying, not to renew his licence.
He maintained involvement with the RAF as, at various times, a Trustee of the RAF Museum; Chairman of the RAF Benevolent Fund; and in 1987 was appointed Honorary Air Commodore of No 1 Maritime HQ Unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, which post he held until 1999. This appointment presented the opportunity for him to again wear with pride the wings earned when with the HKAAF. Adrian was always well aware that the ‘kick start’ for all the above activities stemmed from his time with the HKAAF, where he was able to progress from his original basic training with Oxford University Air Squadron, and gave scope to his love of flying.
Sir Adrian Swire lives in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom.
* * *
Dave Ritchie arrived in Hong Kong in 1963 to join the Public Works Department as a Surveyor. Soon after arrival he was invited to join the Auxiliary Marine Police, passing out as recruit PC(A) 383. His first duty was a six hours stint on a harbour launch on a cold and damp December night, practising tying up to buoys. That evening, still on board, he learned there was an Air Observer Squadron attached to the Marine Auxiliaries and having been a member of the Air Training Corps as a teenager he transferred to that section within a week. Thus began a fourteen years relationship with the Auxies.
For the first six years Dave flew with the HKAAF as an Air Observer Section member, flying in Austers and later helicopters, and periodically manned various radios throughout the Colony’s Police Stations. Then on 1 April 1970 the AOS was transferred into the HKAAF where training continued as observers and helicopter crewmen. Dave ended his career with the RHKAAF as Flight Commander – Crewmen.
When he left Hong Kong in 1978 he took with him very happy memories of his time with the Auxiliaries and although he has not flown in light aircraft or helicopters since, his interest in aviation continued.
His Auxies memories included having seen in the passage of the old RAF Kai Tak HQ a diorama of a World War I airfield with hangers and aircraft – this, and the presentation by Bob Brown to his son of a model Alouette III was the catalyst for him to create his own Auxie layout. In the 1980’s he built several 1:72 scale models of old and new Auxie aircraft. Sadly after nearly 30 years only the Spitfire and Alouette remain – the rest having fought many battles, and sustained terminal damage flown by Dave’s grandson.
Dave now spends his leisure hours playing golf in his native Scotland, wistfully looking up at the sky and remembering, each time a light aircraft interrupts play.
* * *
Shortly after joining the Auxies in 1978, Jonathan Elwes swapped an old car for an even older Tiger Moth, G-ANRN, with a view to flying around Europe during his long summer leaves from Jardines in Hong Kong. James Curtis found and test flew the old kite on his behalf. She was built in 1939 and had only had one previous civilian owner after the war.
In 1983 Jonathan left Jardines, the Auxies and Hong Kong and returned to London to join James Capel & Co, where he specialised in privatisation work. Later he became Chief Executive of their operations first in the Netherlands, then in India. From 1997 he again worked in London before finally leaving the ‘big smoke’ in 2007 to live in Dorset with his wife Louisa and four daughters – and his Tiger.
More than thirty-two years after buying his Tiger Jonathan still flies her from a farm strip near Blandford in Dorset, United Kingdom. In the intervening years he has amassed over 2,000 hours on this aircraft and has led flying expeditions to the four corners of Europe, including three trips to the former USSR, three crossings of the Alps, flights to Greece and to North Africa. He has crossed the Channel in his trusty Tiger 24 times.
Jonathan enjoys inviting old Auxie friends to fly the Tiger and quite a number have accepted his invitation.
* * *
Having done his ab initio training with Cambridge University Air Squadron, Simon Michell joined Jardines in 1977 and found himself living at their mess in Hong Kong, an address also shared by James Curtis. He was accepted into the Auxies and after completing his Bulldog training converted to helicopters.
In 1980 he was posted to S Africa, but returned in 1982 to HK and was able to continue flying with the Auxies. When sadly he was posted to Singapore in 1985 and subsequently the Philippines he was no longer able to continue his helicopter flying. He was recruited by San Miguel Breweries International based in HK in 1995 and returned to the UK in 1997, joining Blue Circle/Lafarge.
Semi-retirement finds Simon living near Glastonbury, in Somerset, where he takes the occasional trip in Jonathan Elwes’s Tiger Moth, and where he is a Trustee for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance charity based at Hentsridge airfield.