Barry ‘Ranga’ Davidson
Former F-111C pilot in No.6 Squadron, RAAF. Limited operational experience with maritime patrols along the Australian coast, plus 2 sorties to East Timor (RF-111C, recon and surveillance for ground forces)
Former pilot for Australian Aid International (AAI) Operational experience with Beechcraft King Air transport, combat experience with Alpha trainer (converted with unguided AtG munitions)
Raised in Darwin, grew up in the bush amongst salt-water crocs and plenty of highly venomous snakes. Showed next to no fear, with the exception of acrophobia (fear of heights) and Indian food. Joined the ADF and subsequently the RAAF, where he passed with flying colours despite his apparent inability to fly above tree-top level at first. Eventually his training gave him the confidence to fly higher, but his low-level flying and navigation skills later proved useful during combat training.
In 2010, following the scrapping of all RAAF F-111 bombers, Ranga and his Weapons Officer, Richard ‘Apoc’ Hills, took a severance package offered to all Pig pilots, and joined up with Australian Aid International- originally an aid group of volunteers and ex-special forces, they had expanded with a small ‘private security’ force in order to enter some of the more dangerous disaster regions. First flying Beechcraft, transporting supplies to field hospitals and commandos to hot zones, AAI later purchased a half-dozen Alpha trainers and modified them for CAS operations, loaded with gunpods and iron bombs, the latter eventually converted to retarded bombs after a low-altitude attack run by Ranga resulted in his craft suffering enough damage to be a write off.
AAI disbanded their airforce after only 2 years in service, partially due to cost but mostly because their operations in the South Pacific were under review. Deciding to concentrate their resources on their neighbours and also gain a subsidy from the Australian government, the fighters were scrapped and the pilots reassigned to transport duty. Once again, Ranga and Apoc decided to quit while ahead, and began looking abroad for a new employer…