Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

BOOM … First RAAF Sabre recording sonic boom!

Vinyl LP recording of First RAAF Sabre Breaking the Sound Barrier

The recording via the below link is a pretty amazing piece of Aussie aviation history. It is a recording of A94-101, the first CAC Sabre, the prototype, being pushed through the sound barrier in a dive as the Pilot Flight Lieutenant W Scott chats casually with Geelong Radio station 3GL announcer Bill Acfield on the ground.

It was recorded on the 21st of August 1953 not even one month after the Sabre’s first ever flight (back on the 3rd August) at Avalon airfield near Geelong, Victoria, Australia. The recording was transmitted live and even played by other radio stations and was released on vinyl and sold as a fund raiser for the hospital in Geelong, which is where this recording has been taken from.

The recording is of the first “official” flight of the prototype aircraft. The recording includes the sounds of the sonic booms as the sound reaches the ground where Bill Acfield stands with his recording equipment and casual banter between the radio announcer and the pilot as he hurtles toward the ground exceeding 700mph in the process.

I came across the recording a number of years ago and it blew me away. Having grown up in Geelong at a time when the RAAF’s F/A-18 Hornets were being assembled and flight tested across the bay at Avalon, it was an amazing connection for me, my hometown radio station and hospital. It also gave me a greater understanding of the importance of Avalon to our country’s aviation history.

A94-101 was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in the southern hemisphere (on a flight prior to this recording) and now resides at RAAF Point Cook Museum.

 

Press the orange and white button in the top left below to hear the recording.

 

Sources:

Audio

– courtesy of Craig Meddings ‘retroradio’ on Soundcloud

Feature image

– courtesy of Dave Soderstrom

Additional Information

RAAF Museum Point Cook

Sneaking Death, By Alf Batchelder

7 comments

  1. Hi Leigh

    Bill Acfield was my father, he often spoke to me about the Breaking of the Sound Barrier Broadcast and other occasions about the same time when Bill Scott got into trouble for frightening the residents of the SW suburbs of Melbourne with sonic booms. He told me that the program was only ever broadcast twice. Once on that great day in 1953 and again in the mid 1970’s. Dad was working for the ABC on 3LO when he heard that Bill Scott had died (I believe in Malasia while working for QANTAS). He brought his copy of the broadcast into work the following night and played it as a tribute to Bill.

    Another minor point of interest is the fact that I ended my nearly 40 year career as an Air Traffic Controller in the position of Tower Manager of Essendon and Avalon.

    Regards

    1. Richard, thank you so very much for the additional information, that adds some wonderful context to an amazing piece of Australian history. I believe this is an important piece of Geelong and Australian history on a number of levels. It is a fabulous piece of radio and precious slice of time that we are lucky to have. It is only for the fact it was recorded to vinyl and that recording had been digitized and put on the internet that I even became aware of its existence.
      The Australian CAC Sabre is recognised as the penultimate version of the many developed from the American F-86 and I am always excited to see one of the few remaining fly as I witnessed at Temora a few weeks ago.
      Congratulations on your career. A wonderful coincidence that you should end up in the tower at Avalon.
      Do you still have your father’s copy of the recording?
      Thank you again for your comment.
      Kind regards.

      1. Hi Leigh

        Unfortunately my fathers 78rpm copy was lost some time after his death in 1977. I thought that I would never hear it again until my friend Justin Giddings (Manager of Avalon Airport) presented me with a copy on CD when he realised that the recording included my fathers voice. Linfox staff had found an old 78 copy when they took over the old Department of Supply offices.

        Another coincidence, my first boss in ATC was the controller in the recording, I had my father use the ABC facilities to make a tape for him as he never received a copy.

        My father did most of the PA during air displays at Avalon during the 1950’s as he was local and an ex Spitfire pilot. He told me the most spectacular thing he ever saw at Avalon was during the first public unveiling of the Canberra bomber which just whistled overhead a few times and was quite an anticlimax. One of the test pilots (I don’t know if it was Bill Scott) and an engineer jumped into a Lincoln and performed a display the like of which had not been seen before from a low flying 4 engine bomber. This included a stall turn at low level with the engineer operating the throttles in pairs to aid the rudders. Authority frowned some what and some disciplinary action was taken.

  2. Hello,

    I have the 78 record ‘somewhere’, was given it by a family friend in the early 1970s, at which time I was in the RAAF Air Training Corps.

    I will have a concerted attempt to find it, and would be happy to gift to the RAAF Museum at Point Cook if they were interested.

    As you can see from my e-mail address, I work in Geelong. I have a clear view of Avalon from my office window, and very much enjoy the ‘fly overs’ during the bi-annual air show.

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