To The Stars: 100 Years Of The RAAF

60 min Source: ABC
PME All levels


The ABC has put together archival video footage, which looks back at the RAAF’s first 100 years covering both war and peace and the dramatic development of aviation technology over this period.


From its humble beginnings a century ago, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has become a proven, vital, and well-respected part of the ADF. Following WW 1—which saw aircraft used as weapons of war for the first time—Australia's military and political leaders realised Air Power's importance. They, therefore—following the example of the RAF—moved to establish the second independent air force in the world, the RAAF. 


Unfortunately, Australia did not keep up with modern aircraft development, and the start of WW 2 painfully demonstrated how unprepared the RAAF was to fight a modern air battle. Many of the RAAF's planes were obsolete and no match for the Japanese Zero. It wasn't until Britain and the USA supplied the RAAF with Spitfires and Kittyhawks that the RAAF could achieve air superiority over Port Moresby and later at the battle of Milne Bay.

During WW2, training for war in the air could be extremely dangerous. Much is spoken about the numbers of battle casualties lost during operations, but less is remembered about airmen killed during their training. At the East Sale pilot training establishment, which came to be known as 'Death Valley', 190 trainee pilots lost their lives. More airmen lost their lives during training than were killed during flying operations in the southwest Pacific.

The ABC documentary—To the Stars: 100 Years of the RAAF—showcases the highs and lows of the RAAF's first 100 years, along with the technological and cultural changes that have seen the RAAF evolve to what it is today. It takes us on a historical journey through various wars and conflicts. The ABC looks at how the RAAF embraced and developed new technology. It also looks at the cultural changes that have seen women serving as combat pilots and a dramatic increase in the number of women serving across the RAAF.