Which famous people have you outlived?
RAAF Chief of the Air Staff
Died when: 89 years 188 days
Star Sign: Leo
Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, (3 August 1890 – 7 February 1980) is widely regarded as the "father" of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He was the first military pilot trained in Australia, and went on to command Australian and British fighter units in World War I. A proponent for air power independent of other branches of the armed services, Williams played a leading role in the establishment of the RAAF and became its first Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) in 1922. He served as CAS for thirteen years over three terms, longer than any other officer. Williams came from a working-class background in South Australia. He was a lieutenant in the Army when he learned to fly at Point Cook, Victoria, in 1914. As a pilot with the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in World War I, Williams rose to command No. 1 Squadron AFC, and later 40th Wing RAF. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and finished the war a lieutenant colonel. Afterwards he campaigned for an Australian Air Force run separately to the Army and Navy, which came into being on 31 March 1921. The fledgling RAAF faced several challenges to its continued existence in the 1920s and early 1930s, and Williams received much of the credit for maintaining its independence. However an adverse report on flying safety standards saw him dismissed from the position of CAS and seconded to the RAF prior to World War II. Despite support in various quarters for his reinstatement as Air Force chief, and promotion to air marshal in 1940, he never again commanded the RAAF. After the war he was forcibly retired along with other World War I veteran officers. He took up the position of Director-General of Civil Aviation in Australia, and was knighted the year before his retirement in 1955.