‘Blue’ Leaves the Blue After 50 Years

After a record-making 50 years of service in the Royal Australian Air Force, Warrant Officer Ian ‘Blue’ Macgregor OAM is retiring.

From rubbing shoulders with Royalty and former Prime Ministers to pioneering work on aircraft, ‘Blue’, who started his RAAF career as a 15-year-old, will be dedicating his time to the local Hawkesbury community by volunteering at the Hawkesbury Community Kitchen as well as Windsor RSL sub branch.

On January 8, 1974, 15 year-old Ian Macgregor from Western Australia joined the RAAF as a radio apprentice never expecting his RAAF career to take him on the journey of half a century, close to half of the RAAF’s existence.

“I have always been very proud to wear the uniform and be part of the Air Force. That’s the sad part, to leave all that behind,” he said.

Blue at the start of his raaf journey

“To be a 15-year-old kid from WA, who had never been on an airplane, flying in a big 727 to Melbourne and joining with 32 other boys, I was just over the moon. It was fantastic!”

After completing his apprenticeship at RAAF Base Laverton, he was posted to RAAF Base Richmond as a radio technician at No. 2 Aircraft Depot.

A chance meeting with a flight engineer at a base cricket tournament ignited a new passion and in 1982, Blue retrained as a flight engineer on the then brand new C-130H Hercules aircraft and later No. 33 squadron’s Boeing 707s.

During his time on both aircraft, he transported many famous figures including former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, the late HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and Pope John Paul II’s Pope-mobile.

Warrant officer ian ‘blue’ macgregor oam

Following the crash of a RAAF Boeing 707 in 1991, Blue began working on analysing and rewriting the operating procedures of RAAF aircraft and creating new ways to train aircraft operators in flight simulators.

For his dedication to aircraft safety, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for meritorious service and a Pathfinder’s Award for Excellence within Air Mobility Group.

Since 2006, he has continued his work with flight simulators as both a Reservist and Australian Public Service member as the Simulator Logistics Manager responsible for the through life support of aircraft simulators.

More recently, Blue has had a vital role in developing a new capability in the C-130J Hercules simulator in cooperation with Australia’s allied partners.

His advice to young aviators is: “Enjoy the journey. Make your hobby your vocation and you won’t work a day in your life. I’ve felt that. I’ve been paid to learn, travel and have fun for the past 50 years.”