Captain J.B.C. Surtees ( - )



Brian Surtees commenced Flying whilst still at school in the United Kingdom in 1956 on an RAF Flying Scholarship and obtained a Private Pilot's Licence flying Tiger Moth and Auster aircraft.

Left: Brian Surtees, photographed in September 2005
(Photo: Phil Vabre/CAHS Collection)

Below: Brian Surtees in 1958 (Photo: Brian Surtees collection)

He joined the RAF in 1957 and did flying training in Canada on Chipmunk, Harvard and Lockheed T-33 aircraft. This was followed in 1959-1962 by service in 17 Squadron in the RAF 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany, flying low level reconnaissance in Canberra PR.7s. It was during this time that the Berlin Wall was built.

On return to the U.K. Brian completed the remainder of 12 years service as an instructor in basic, advanced and operational conversion roles, flying Vampire, Jet Provost and Canberra aircraft.

Brian Surtees migrated to Australia in 1969 with his wife and two sons (10 pound Poms!) and initially could not get a flying job. After a year spent working in Western Queensland as a Pommie Jackeroo he was employed by DCA as an Examiner of Airmen in Head Office, Melbourne. In 1974 he was fortunate to escape head office to the DCA Flying Unit at Essendon Airport.

For the next 24 years Brian enjoyed a career flying F.27, Merlin, Rockwell Commander 1000, and F.28 aircraft on navaid calibration and occasional V.I.P. work. The area of operation ultimately encompassed Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the South Pacific islands, Vietnam and Indonesia. During this time he was Type Specialist on the Merlin and F.28 aircraft and acted as Chief Pilot on several occasions. On retirement in 1998 he had accumulated some 14,000 hr as a pilot.


click here for a larger version


Click here to read Brian's account of airways calibration work in Vietnam.


Left: In the early 1990s Brian Surtees appeared in CAA ads in as one of the 'Guardians of the Skies'. Click on the image at left for a larger version.

(Brian Surtees collection)


Below: Captain Brian Surtees in VH-ATD, one of the Department's F.28s.

(CAHS collection)

Brian Surtee


Brian came out of retirement for a short while to work as a ground school instructor for Kendell Airlines, conducting conversion training on the Bombardier CRJ jet airliner. Unfortunately the job disappeared with the demise of Ansett and its subsidiaries. However it did enable Brian to get right up to date with the latest "glass cockpit" technology.

As a member of the volunteer staff at the Airways Museum, Brian has been busy cataloguing the exhibits, collections and libraries and entering them on a database. Click here for some of Brian's work.


Above: Brian Surtees in a Vampire FB.5 at RAF Valley, Wales, in 1958.

(Photo: Brian Surtees collection)

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