From the outback to Tarakan,
the powerful story of LEN WATERS,
Australia's first Aboriginal fighter pilot
by Peter Rees

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Death generated acclaim for Len Waters. He became a face on a stamp and a name on street signs, parks and a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter jet. Waters was a trailblazer who broke barriers to realise a childhood dream of becoming a fighter pilot – the first and only known Indigenous Australian ever to do so. But since 1946, Waters was a missing man with none of the opportunities offered to other veterans.

Len Waters was a Kamilaroi man. Born on an Aboriginal reserve, he left school at thirteen and by twenty was piloting a RAAF Kittyhawk fighter with 78 Squadron in the lethal skies over the Pacific in World War II. It was serious and dangerous work and his achievement was extraordinary. These would be the best years of his life.

With the war over, it should have been easy. He believed he could 'live on both sides of the fence' and be part of Australia's emerging commercial airline industry. He had, after all, broken through the 'black ceiling' once before. Above all, he just wanted to fly. Peter Rees rights that wrong in this powerful, compelling and at times tragic examination of Len Water's life. He also tells us something of Australia’s collective history that we need to hear.


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Soft cover, 348 pages

7 page Index, 5 page Bibliography

16 pages of photographs



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This page first produced 18 June 2018

This page last updated 23 January 2020