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by Kym Stucke


Photo: Kevin Pavlich Collection

The following biography was submitted by Bruce Sellick's daughter, Kym Stucke.

Bruce was a pilot with Adastra in the late 1950s. Today I discovered this website and was very excited to find photos and stories about my father. I particularly loved the story about the sick bag!

Bruce passed away a year ago now, on 11 March 2005. He is sadly missed by his family and friends. I have put together a brief history of dad's flying career, which may be of interest to you. Dad's flying career spanned over 40 years. On his 18th birthday he went to the Recruiting Office to enlist and was officially called up by the RAAF in December of that year. In December 1941 he undertook the Initial Flying Training Course at Mount Brecken, Victor Harbour, SA. On completion he was assessed suitable for training as a pilot. In June 1942 he attended the Parafield Elementary Flying Training School - north of Adelaide - flying Tiger Moths. His Advanced Flying Training was undertaken at Uranquinty (near Wagga Wagga) on Wirraways. At this point in time the system had been thrown into chaos as the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour. When his Advanced Flying Training was completed, he was sent to Bombing & Gunnery School at Evans Head, NSW - flying Fairey Battles for six months. He was then posted to Williamtown near Newcastle with the Operational Training Unit, flying Vultee Vengeance dive bombers.

In 1943 he was posted to the 24th Squadron in New Guinea where he fought the Japanese, flying the Vultee Vengeance. He was based at Nadzab, Kirawina (Trobriand Islands) bombing various targets in New Guinea.

In January 1946 he was discharged from the RAAF. In 1947 the Navy advertised for pilots for the Fleet Air Arm. Bruce applied for the position and was accepted. He spent six months at the Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria and was then posted to HMAS "Condamine", an Australian Navy frigate, training between Perth, Darwin, Brisbane and Melbourne, where he completed the Abbreviated Mid-shipman's Course. He then went to England for further Advanced Flying Training on Fairey Fireflies, at Lossiemouth, Scotland and Eglington in Northern Ireland. The basis of this training was to learn how to land on Anti-Submarine Aircraft Carriers. On completion of this training he flew Mark 4 Fireflies as part of the 22nd Carrier Air Group in HMAS Sydney.

Bruce spent four years in the Navy and then put in his resignation as he had had enough. He lost twelve of his mates during that training period through flying accidents. His resignation was knocked back as officers were needed for the Korean War. In 1952 he was therefore still in the Navy and sent to the Korean War as a Watchkeeping Officer on the HMAS "Warramunga" - a tribal class destroyer. He spent a further nine months at war - served his time and then resigned again - this time his resignation was accepted.

After Korea, Bruce joined QANTAS. He flew DC-3s in New Guinea initially and then 749 Constellations, and was based in Sydney. It was during his flying years with QANTAS that he met Marie, his future wife (of 50 years), who was a QANTAS air hostess at the time. In 1958 he left QANTAS and opened a business and dabbled in spec-building and real estate. He returned to flying not long after by joining Adastra for four years. During this period he was involved in piloting the aircraft undertaking geophysical surveys of Tasmania and Victoria and oil searches in Queensland.

In 1963 he joined Ansett where he flew DC-3s and Fokker F.27 Friendships. From 1966 through to 1972 he regularly flew the Sandringham Flying Boats to Lord Howe Island from Rose Bay in Sydney and was promoted to Captain that year. Dad was affectionately known as "The Captain" to his friends in Strathfield, where our family resided for over 20 years. Bruce continued flying until his retirement in 1983.

Bruce has said that if at the end of the day, you can look at yourself in the mirror and know you've done your best - then that's all that matters - and not to worry about what others might say or think. Bruce lived by these words - and did exactly that. He was proud of his family, always putting us first in everything he did. His sound and sensible management of his affairs has ensured a comfortable lifestyle for his family. My father was a quiet achiever and a true gentleman.

Thank you for making my day today, as I have been feeling a little down the past few days, as this is the first anniversary of dad's death.

Kym Stucke
16 March 2006