Located at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne, the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia is Australia's oldest flying training organisation. The Club was founded on 25 October 1914, when a group of young officers of the newly formed Australian Flying Corps met at Point Cook, Victoria. They decided that an Australian Aero club should be formed, to be affiliated to the Royal Aero Club in London. The first President was Major H.A. Petre, who had been sent out from England to inaugurate a flying school for the Australian Government. The first Secretary was Captain T.W. White, later to become The Hon. Sir Thomas White, K.B.E., D.F.C., V.D.
Further development of the Clubs was delayed by World War I. In 1919 individual sections of the Australian Aero Club were formed in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
In March 1926 the national aero club movement was formalised under the name of the Australian Aero Club Federal Council. It consisted of representatives of the Victorian and New South Wales Clubs only. South Australia joined in 1927, Queensland and Tasmania in 1928, and Western Australia in 1929, when a new Constitution was adopted and the name changed to the Associated Aero Clubs. In 1948 the name changed to the Aero Club Federation of Australia, and during 1960 the prefix 'Royal' was granted by Her Majesty and the present title adopted.
The primary object of the Clubs was initially to develop interest in flying throughout the Commonwealth. Particular attention was paid to aerial pageants and air races, and public receptions for pioneer aviators at the end of historic flights. These were accompanied by flying displays and were enormously well attended.
As war began to threaten in the 1930s, the Clubs began to realise their defence potential. They made strong representations to the Federal Government for financial assistance to support pilot training at a reasonable cost to the individual. When war finally broke out in 1939 several of the larger Clubs were turned into elementary flying training schools and provided the instructors, aircraft and ground maintenance facilities to train cadet pilots for the RAAF. This left the RAAF to concentrate on intensive instructor training.
After the war the Clubs trained National Service Air Training Corps Cadets, General Reservists, University Air Squadron Cadets and some Citizen Air Force Cadets. In later years the emphasis shifted from the training of pilots for defence purposes towards the training of commercial pilots for Australia's airlines, the rapidly expanding aerial agriculture industry and charter pilots. The RFACA introduced a low-cost scheme, the Airline Pilot Training Scheme, to fulfil these needs. Graduates are held in high regard by the airline industry.
Today a principal role of the RFACA is the representation of its members at Federal and State Government levels to encourage the establishment of Flying Training Facilities and to promote the development of all facets of private, sporting and recreational aviation.
Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia website http://www.flyingtraining.com.au/rfaca/rfacahistory.htm.