During 30 years of flying with the Australian Army Matt Barker has got to try his hand at a wide range of roles. He has picked up some tales of close calls and funny incidents along the way.
In the 1980’s the RAAF was directed to transfer its helicopters to the Australian Army. This brought about an urgent need for the Army to increase their pilot recruiting numbers. At that time it would take 18 months of officer training and then another 12-18 months of flight training to get a new pilot to an operational unit. That was a lag time the Army couldn’t afford and the Special Service Officer (SSO) scheme was started which saw new recruits put through a 10 week abridged officer training course (commonly called a Knife, Fork and Spoon course) then straight into flight training.
Matt Barker was on this first SSO course through and shares some of the cultural interplay between these new officers and the rest of the Army. Going into the training he already had his commercial licence flown on R22, Bell 47 G2 and G4 models.
30 years later and Matt has flow Kiowa, Blackhawk, AS350 Squirrel, Tiger and MRH. He is an instructor, has flown Special Operations and was the Standards Officer in charge of developing the operating procedures for Tiger in Australian service from a blank piece of paper.
He has spent time flying over many parts of Australia, PNG, Timor and done stints in the UK, France and the US.
Thanks to Craig Bowman for the introduction to Matt and for feeding me some starting info to tease out the stories from Matt.
05 Oct 1987 – Joined Australian Army on Number 1 SSO Pilot course (46 Army Pilot course)
Jan – Jun 1988 – Basic Pilot course on CT4 at No 1 Flying Training School at RAAF Base Point Cook
Jul – Dec 1988 – Rotary wing course at SAA Oakey on B206 Kiowa
Dec 88 – Jan 91- Posted to 161 Recce Sqn at Holsworthy as a pilot on B206 Kiowa
Jan 91 – Oct 91 – Posted to Instructor training with US Army at Fort Rucker on OH58 Kiowa
Oct 91 – Oct 94 – QFI at ADF Helicopter School on AS350 Squirrel
Oct 94 – Jan 95 – S70 Blackhawk conversion course at SAA
Feb 95 – Dec 97 – Pilot, troop commander and SQN QFI at A SQN, 5 Aviation Regiment at RAAF Townsville
Jan 98 – Jun 2000 – QFI and troop commander at ADF Helicopter School on AS350 Squirrel
Jul 00 – Dec 2002 – SQN QFI at 161 Recce SQN at RAAF Darwin. Two stints in East Timor as Troop Commander and Detachment Commander
Jan 03 – Dec 09 – ARH Tiger Flying Standards Officer, posted to Eurocopter Marignane France 2004/05 and AAVNTC Oakey
Jan 10 – Dec 11 – ARH Tiger Instructor Development Officer, Instructor Training Wing, AAVNTC Oakey
Jan 12 – Dec 12 – Flying Standards Officer for ARH Tiger at 1 Aviation Regiment Darwin
Jan 13 – Jul 14 – ARH Tiger QFI with KBR at SAA Oakey
31 Jan 2014 – Transferred from full time to active reserve in the Australian Army
Jul 14 – Present – MRH90 Taipan QFI with Airbus at SAA Oakey.
In this episode:
Punching a nanna while on a joyflight
Deer hunting in NZ using MD500’s ‘coolest thing ever seen’ – was initial reason for wanting to fly helicopters
Special Service Officer (SSO) pilot course
First SSO pilot to SQN
Recruiting video for Royal Military College
Chip light over Sydney nude
Katherine Bachelors and Spinster’s Ball
Passing out on approach to RAAF base Tindal
Field promotion for maintainer
T-aid night approaches
Night flying training
Introduction of NVGs – black tape and cyalume sticks
Melbourne to Sydney Kiowa flight – IIMC, QANTAS jets, low fuel and lions
[Video] Australian Army Tiger and MRH that Matt Barker flies.
Do you have a question for Matt or about something mentioned in the episode that you want to ask? Be part of the conversation by leaving a comment below.