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:
|Air Sea Rescue||1,105|
|Recce Landing and Dropping Zones||7,800|
The Squadron also flew over 40,000 additional hours on training, air testing, demonstrations, etc., of a non-operational nature.
|Communist Terrorist Camps Found||Over||1,750||Camps|
|Aerial Observation for Artillery Fire||Over||3,500||Targets|
|Air Strikes Marked for Bombers||Over||4,000||Targets|
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.