The Allan Vial - Path Finder Force Annexe
Opening Ceremony

 

The Allan Vial - Path Finder Force Annexe was officially opened by Air Vice-Marshal Dave Rogers AM (RAAF Rtd.), at the Museum, on 16 August 2006. Prior to the ceremony, wreaths were laid at the QAM's Memorial plinth, to honour the memory of the Officer Commanding 8 Group (Path Finder Force) of RAF Bomber Command, Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett CB CBE DSO and also the members of his force; also, to the memory of Squadron Leader Neville Wallis MBE (RAAF Rtd.) who passed away whilst on duty at the Museum on 2 July 2006. At precisely the appointed time of 1122, F-111G, A8-272, (piloted by SQNLDR Michael Sullivan YP9 - navigator FLTLT Susan Youngman) performed a flypast, directly overhead the plinth, at a height of 1000 feet, flying at 360 knots, having departed their base, RAAF Amberley, just three minutes earlier.

Invited guests then assembled inside Hangar 2, where they were addressed by Allan Vial, DFC OAM OPR (Pol), Life President of the Path Finder Force Association, also Air Vice-Marshal Dave Rogers AM, Patron of the PFF Association, who officially opened the Allan Vial - Path Finder Force Annexe.

In a day filled with ceremony, all invited guests adjourned to Hangar 1 for the opening of the Don Bennett Office by AVM Rogers. Hangar 1 is an appropriate venue for a re-creation of Don Bennett's Deepwood office as this building was dedicated in Don Bennett's memory when the Museum was officially opened by his widow Mrs Ly Bennett on 4 April 1987. Following Don Bennett's death, his widow, Ly, expressed a wish that the contents of Don's office should be preserved in his home State of Queensland, in the Don Bennett Building. To this end they were placed in the custody of Allan Vial. The contents of the office were flown to Australia by the RAAF and placed in secure storage pending availability of a suitable display venue. The expansion of QAM's under-cover display space provided such an opportunity and a further gift from Allan Vial facilitated the construction of the Don Bennett Office within Hangar 1.

At the conclusion of the formal ceremonies, guests enjoyed lunch in the shade of a demountable marquee which was acquired from proceeds of QAM's very successful Open Cockpit Weekend in July. During lunch, guests were treated to a flypast by QAM member Warwick Henry in his de Havilland Chipmunk VH-RSP.

QAM records its appreciation to Allan Vial, DFC OAM OPR [Pol] for funding the construction of the Hangar 2 Annexe, the Don Bennett Office in Hangar 1 and the sealing of the floor in Hangar 2.

 

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