Alastair Bridges - Motivation to join the Air Force
Department of Veterans' Affairs
I used to play rugby down there in Melbourne which is unusual, of course, and one of my mates, and I can still remember sitting on the tram with him and we were talking about what we would do and I said "I'm thinking I might be a pilot one day" and he looked at me and said "Yeah, I think you'd be a great pilot".
Why I thought that I've got no idea. Eighteen or nineteen then, yes, so for some reason or other I then applied to the Air Force. People have asked "Is it Dad's influence?" Well not really, he was only there for a couple of years in the war.
Really, before that, down in Hobart, so I guess it went back a bit we had the local newspaper down there, the Mercury I think it was called, it had a promotion for people who might want to fly and I said "Yeah, I'll go" and we went out to Hobart airport, Cambridge airport, and I had a little fly in a light aircraft there and that's when I started talking to my parents, "I need to learn how to fly" and they said "Well we certainly can't afford to do that"
I think from there on that maybe Air Force, they'll pay me while I learn to fly as well and I think that might be where it was at the back of my mind. Look the intention was to learn how to fly and then go to the airlines and earn the big money. I never did that. I stayed in the Air Force well over twenty years.
I had mates go to the airlines and I used to think, "Now I could get in a 747 and take off out of Sydney and fourteen hours later be in Los Angeles. How boring." The Air Force flying we used our aircraft to the maximum of their capability, and I loved that. That's what I loved doing so no, I wasn't joining the air force so I could join the military and go fighting things, that wasn't my interest at all. So, when Vietnam came it was a bit of a shock.