A record 150,000 flying hours

28  February  1959

The highlight of 1959  took place on 28 February, when the Squadron gave a flying demonstration before a number of distinguished spectators at Noble Field, Kuala Lumpur, to mark the achievement of 150,000 operational flying hours. This demonstration, followed by the presentation parade, was the culmination of the Squadron’s flying effort over the previous ten years.

The Sunday Times journalist, Harry Miller, wrote that 150,000 hours was equivalent to seventeen years of non-stop flying by a single Auster, or 498 times around the world.

The following figures were provided in the official programme of the event:

TasksHours Flown
Visual Recce80,160
Supply Drop8,275
Artillery Observation2,400
Air Search2,350
Leaflet dropping5,250
Photographic Recce1,125
Air Sea Rescue1,105
Recce Landing and Dropping Zones7,800
Communication Flying41,800

The  Squadron  also  flew  over  40,000  additional  hours  on  training,  air  testing, demonstrations, etc., of a non-operational nature.

Results Achieved
Communist Terrorist Camps FoundOver1,750Camps
Supplies DroppedOver400Tons
Aerial Observation for Artillery FireOver3,500Targets
Air Strikes Marked for BombersOver4,000Targets
Leaflets DroppedOver150Million
Passengers CarriedOver50,000Passengers

Brigadier Peter Mead, who had flown very briefly with 1587 Flight in India 1944 as one of the students on the unit’s first AOP course, went on to become Brigadier Army Aviation, and in 1961 wrote,

‘656  Squadron  was  in  Malaya,  where  the  war  against  the  communists  was  in  its eleventh year. Their reconnaissance was widely described as the greatest single factor against  the  terrorists,  and  one  can  say  with  confidence  that  in  this  theatre, Army Aviation had completely sold itself to the Army.’

It was reported at the time that this was a record number of operational flying hours for any Squadron.

Since then it has gone on to amass well over 200,000, and this is believed to be a record unmatched by any Army Air Corps, Royal Navy or Royal Air Force squadron to this day.