Sir Edmund Hillary
Image right: Sir Edmund Hillary (seated), WCDR (retired) Bill Cranfield (standing behind Sir Ed) and the P-3 crew. WN-07-0035-08-tn.jpg.
Sir Edmund Hillary served with No.5 Squadron from September 1944 until the end of WWII as a Navigator on the Catalina Flying Boats. He was posted to Lauthala Bay in Fiji for the majority of his time serving with No.5 Squadron.
No.5 Squadron had a strong presence at the state funeral for Sir Edmund Hillary. FLTLT Kate Mills and FGOFF Pete Jackson were insignia bearers, and W/O Naihi Norman, and ex- No.5 Squadron Ordnanceman W/O Dave Lark were part of the Bearer party. As a Squadron, we were also officially invited to attend the funeral in respect for his association with No.5 Squadron. It was a great honour and a very moving day for all those involved to represent the time that he had served with No.5 Squadron.
Some members from No.5 Squadron had a very special meeting with Sir Ed in Jan 2007 when he was down at Antarctica for the 50th Anniversary of the RNZAF’s involvement in Antarctica.
Image left: Insignia bearers, FLTLT Kate Mills and FGOFF Pete Jackson, at Sir Edmund Hillary’s state funeral, 22 Jan 2008. MC-08-0035-06-tn.jpg.
Sir Ed signed $5 notes for all the crew and had photos taken with him. Sir Ed also enjoyed re-telling his adventures as a Navigator on the Catalina’s, and some of the experiences he had with No.5 Squadron. Needless-to-say, navigation was much more difficult in his day! This was an occasion not to be forgotten by any of the crew, cherished memories forever of a great man.
Sir Ed was No.5 Squadron’s patron, and we had always felt a strong sense of admiration and respect for him. A painting of him that was donated to No.5 Squadron hangs proudly at our front door.
Sir Ed always had a soft spot for No.5 Squadron; we always had and always will have a soft spot for him. May he rest in peace, and his legacy always be remembered for generations to come.