Possums & Bird Dogs: Australian Army Aviation's 161 Reconnaissance Flight in South Vietnam

By Peter Nolan | Go to book overview

6
Relocation to Nui Dat

Task force commander Brigadier Owen Jackson officially opened Luscombe Field at Nui Dat on 5 December 1966. Major Laurie Doyle, with Captain John Wright as co-pilot, had made the first landing on the strip on 31 October. Laurie didn’t want to get beaten to it by the Americans or the unscrupulous RAAF pilots from Vung Tau.

The airfield was named after Captain Bryan Luscombe, the first Air Observation Post pilot trained in the Australian Army. He was killed in action while serving with the British Commonwealth Division in Korea in 1952. At the opening ceremony, Laurie Doyle presented a brass plaque to Brigadier Jackson which he attached to the airfield sign. The plaque told Captain Luscombe’s story and was later incorporated in a permanent stone marker maintained by 161 as a memorial to him.1

The Luscombe runway ran roughly east-west. In air traffic control parlance, it was Runway 10 to the east and 28 to the west. On takeoff to the west, the dominant feature facing the pilot was a chain of high hills, the Nui Thai Vais and the Nui Dinhs, which overlooked the vital Route 15 from Vung Tau to Saigon and afforded the enemy a grandstand view of the centre of the province including Nui Dat. Beyond the hills the mangrove labyrinth of the Rung Sat provided a

-67-

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