THE STORY OF AVIATOR ‘BATTLING’ RAY PARER
Members of the iconic Parer family are seeking to induct the intrepid ‘Battling’ Ray Parer (1894-1967) and his flying partner John McIntosh (1892-1921) in the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame. When you read about their exploits in making the first England to Australia flight in a single-engined aircraft, you wonder why their names aren’t there already.
Ray's nephew, Rob Parer CMG MBE, a long-term Aitape resident and entrepreneur now living in Brisbane, writes that in his uncle's 15 years as a pilot in New Guinea he was celebrated for his brave, skilled and intuitive flying.
Parer’s outstanding meteorological knowledge and his intrepid approach to flying helped him open new air routes through PNG’s challenging terrain, including the safest passage through the Owen Stanley mountain range from Moresby to Wau. This was used by all pilots until aircraft had pressurised cabins. Ray was also known for his expertise as an aviation mechanic and also for his good nature and comradeship.
Rob Parer writes: “The airways of PNG are treacherous due to the massive mountain ranges that traverse the length of the mainland and to sudden changeable weather, which often turns into violent tropical storms. In the pioneering pre-World War II period this meant flying without navigational services and in an open cockpit. There were only a handful of landing strips, including beaches, in New Guinea in the early years and Ray flew these skies more than anyone between 1927 and 1941.”
The aviation blog, Aces Flying High, tells the story of how Australian Flying Corp Lieutenants Ray Parer and his relatively inexperienced co-pilot John McIntosh were one of only six entrants in the first England to Australia Air Race. When they took off from Hounslow near London on 8 January 1920, the race had already been won by Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith and their mechanics Jim Bennett and Wally Shiers. But Parer and McIntosh soldiered on regardless, taking a massive 208 days to complete the race and encountering many accidents and other mishaps along the way. Their aircraft, G-EAQM, can be found at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
In completing the race in their small Airco DH9, they became the first aviators to fly a single-engine aircraft from England to Australia. After finishing the race they presented prime minister William Morris ‘Billy’ Hughes with a bottle of whisky distilled by PD, their sponsor, now owned by Diageo. Both men were later awarded the Air Force Cross and received £500 (about K130,000, $A56,000, in today’s money) as a reward for their perilous undertaking. After World War II, Ray became the superintendent of aircraft production at Archerfield airfield near Brisbane.
QUESTIONS WE CAN ONLY AGREE WITH
Alfred Rungol notes on Twitter (aka X) that corrupt PNG officials are using the Cybercrime Act to arrest anyone who blows the whistle on corrupt activities. “Where is justice and transparency,” Alfred asks, “Why are the Police, ICAC, Transparency International and the Ombudsman Commission so quiet over this issue? Corruption is killing this country and yet we stay silent.
PROPAGANDA DOESN’T STOP POLLUTION
Gavan McCormack writes in Pearls & Irritations: “To the peoples of the small states of the Pacific, serial victims of waves of nuclear testing, first American, then French, the blow coming from nuclear-victim country Japan was especially bitter. To the shock and harm caused by the initial massive radioactivity release of 2011 has now to be added that of the deliberate, premeditated dumping of nuclear wastes from 2023. The “great powers” in the past had given Island peoples repeated assurances that there would be no risk to health or environment from testing or dumping.
“Those peoples watch sadly now as nuclear victim country Japan does likewise, engaging in intense propaganda efforts to line up regional states to endorse its wastewater dumping campaign. Japanese words today ring as hollow to Pacific Island peoples as did once American or French words. Even the Japanese people themselves, when it comes to Fukushima wastewater dumping ‘have little trust in TEPCO or the Japanese Government’, says Suzuki Tatsujiro, former vice-chairman of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission.”