Logo of the Australian Air League


The Australian Air League was a voluntary organisation formed in 1934 to assist the Australian government with the training of pilots for the peaceful development or defence of Australia. There were 47 branches of the Australian Air League in Sydney and country areas of New South Wales by 1938 with about 7,500 members aged from nine years old to over 16 years old.

The Australian Air League was an organisation registered under the Companies Act in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, as an organisation not conducted for profit. It was also registered under the Charities Act so that its funds derived from public subscription were audited under Government supervision.

The objectives of the Australian Air League were to train and educate junior and senior cadets in all matters relating to aviation. The Motto which appeared on their Letter Heads stated "To Foster a Spirit of Air-mindedness in the Youth of Australia".

Lectures were given the junior cadets (9 to 16 years) as follows:-

History of Aviation
Morse Signaling
Model Aircraft building
Marching and drill
Physical fitness exercises

Senior Cadets (16 tears and over) were taught:-

Theory of Flight
Theory of Wireless navigation
Theory Aero Engines
Practical instruction on the above

In 1937 it was possible through a special subsidy scheme for outstanding cadets to be trained up to "A" licence standard.

In May 1938, with government endorsement, a National Flying Training Fund was established under the auspices of the Royal Aero Club of NSW by the Chamber of Manufacturers. This allowed youths who could not afford the 50 Pounds "A" Licence instruction fee to train as pilots.

On 20 November 1939,  K.C. Cameron, the Victorian State Secretary of the Australian Air League wrote to the Secretary of Air Board in Melbourne regarding a number of issues but mainly the shortage of equipment which was hampering their work in training intending Air Force recruits. He sent a reminder letter to the Air Board again on 30 May 1940. Mr. M.C. Langslow (Secretary) wrote back to the Australian Air League on 13 June 1940 stating "the requirements of instructional equipment for Empire Air Training Scheme Schools have been so large that al available unserviceable items have been taken back into use for this purpose."

In May 1940 the Victorian State Headquarters for the Australian Air league were located at 94 Queen Street, Melbourne and the Head Office for the Australian Air League was located in Sirius House at 23-25 Macquarie Place, Sydney. The Queensland State Headquarters were located at 333 Queen Street, Brisbane.

In December 1940 there were some 12, 000 members in the Australian Air League with membership increasing daily.

Officials of the Australian Air League in May 1940

Patron-in-Chief His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia Brigadier-General the Right Honorable Lord Gowrie, V.C., G.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O.
Patron The Honorable B.S. Stevens, M.L.A., Premier of New South Wales.
President J. Hubert Fairfax, Esq.
Vice Presidents Commander F.W. Hixson, O.B.E., J.P.
C.M.C. Shannon Esq.
Sir Ernest Fisk, K.B., A.M.I.E. (Aust.), F. Inst. R.E.
Sir Alfred Davidson, K.B.E.
G.G. Lee, Esq.
Dr. F.A. Maguire, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D.
Honorary Solicitor J.E.A. Florance, Esq.
Honorary Treasurer C.B. Napier, Esq.
Honorary Auditors Bowie Wilson & D'Arcy Irvine
General Secretary Geo. H.T. Robey, D.C.M.
State Secretary K.C. Cameron

Cecil R. McKenzie, an electrical draftsman, who worked with the Sydney County Council Electricity Department was an Education Officer for the Australian Air League. Cecil was also in charge of education at the Naval Patrol Auxiliary and was a skipper in the Naval Patrol Auxiliary Squadron. Cecil married Florence Violet McKenzie (nee Wallace) who was affectionately referred to as "Mrs Mac" and was often referred to as the "Mother of the WRANS". "Mrs Mac" established the Women's Emergency Signalling Corps which provided the first intake for the formation of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS).



"The WAAAF in Wartime Australia"
By Joyce Thomson


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This page first produced 17 January 2009

This page last updated 16 January 2020