Conway Bown was born in Sydney in 1966 and educated
at The Scots College. After leaving school, he held down a number of
jobs to pay for his flying lessons; waiting tables, tending bar,
salesman, anything that would earn dollars to go towards flight
training. After a number of months working in the United States for a
law firm, he joined the Army in 1990 and was initially posted to the
Land Warfare Centre in Canungra QLD for officer training and then
commenced flight training.
CT4-A Airtrainer from 1 FTS
First posting was in January 1991 to No 1 Flight
Training School (1FTS) at RAAF Base Williams - Point Cook outside of
Melbourne, the birthplace of Australian military aviation. At this time,
all military aviators; Army, Navy and Air Force, were trained on
fixed-wing aircraft whereupon the Air Force and Navy pilots would
proceed to No 2 Flight Training School at RAAF Base Pearce and the Army
pilots would proceed straight to helicopter training. After almost six
months of training on CT4-A Airtrainers, he graduated and was then
posted to the Australian Defence Force Helicopter School (ADFHS) at RAAF
Base Fairbairn in Canberra. At ADFHS, he commenced his basic rotary-wing training
on the Aerospatiale AS-350B Squirrel helicopter. This training included
formation flying, low-level flying, external load operations and
AS-350B Squirrel from ADFHS
S-70A-9 Black Hawk of 5th Aviation Regiment
After graduating ADFHS he was allocated to S-70A-9
Black Hawk helicopters and commenced type conversion onto the aircraft
and then Regimental Officers Basic Course at the School of Army Aviation
at Army Airfield Oakey on Queensland's Darling Downs. Earning his wings in May 1992, he was posted to 5th
Aviation Regiment in Townsville. 5 Avn Regt is the Army's airmobile
regiment and was equipped with S-70 Black Hawks and UH-1H Iroquois.
Flying Black Hawks for A Squadron for three years, he experimented with
art, creating various works of varying quality.
CH=47D Chinook of 5th Aviation Regiment
In the US at the US Army's Aviation Centre, Fort Rucker, Alabama
training on Chinook helicopters.
After attaining about
800 hours on Black Hawks, he was then selected to proceed to the United
States to train on the huge CH-47D Chinook helicopters. In March 1995, whilst at Fort Rucker in Alabama, he
drew a picture of the cockpit of the Chinook which was well received. So
popular was this picture that he had copies printed and sold them to
members of the US Army. This spawned the idea to pursue his interest in
art more seriously and so upon return to Australia, he drew a picture of
a soldier called 'Digger - Heir to Anzac' and then sold the prints. This was the start of his art career
at age 29.
Digger - Heir to Anzac
In East Timor as the LZ commander in Balibo on Operation LAVARACK. The
house in the background is the house in which 5 Australian journalists
lived before allegedly being executed by Indonesian special forces in
For the next ten years, he flew Chinook helicopters
for C Squadron, 5th Aviation Regiment becoming a Unit Test Pilot,
Squadron Second-in-Command and detachment commander on a number of
operational deployments. In 1999 he was deployed to East Timor (left) as the
Army Liaison Officer on General Cosgrove's HQ and then on 3 Brigade HQ.
The next year were two deployments to support the Olympic Games security
operations. In 2001 he decided to take a tilt at federal politics
running for the seat of Herbert as an independent. Whilst not winning
the seat, he was the most successful independent candidate without previous
political experience in the 2001 election.
During this period of
campaigning, the world changed with the fall of the twin towers in New
York and the commencement of military operations in Afghanistan and
Iraq. He returned to the Army in December of 2001 and the following year
undertook a course in French language before returning to East Timor as
the Army Aviation Detachment Commander supporting UN operations.
Returning to Australia he assumed the role of Regiment Adjutant before
being required to deploy to Iraq as an operational Chinook helicopter pilot and
Test Pilot on Operation FALCONER in the Middle East (right).
In the Middle East during the war against Iraq as a Chinook pilot.
Flying the EMS chopper in the Torres Strait
Upon return to Australia, it was time to move on from
administrative positions and pursue his flying and art and so he
transferred to the Army Reserve which allowed him to continue flying for
C Squadron. At this time he started flying for civilian organisations.
Whilst flying powerline patrol (right) in an MD-500, he had a tail rotor failure
which caused his aircraft to spin out of control. After his crash, he
was called by the office of the Chief of Army and it was requested he
return to Army duty as the Army's Official War Artist whereupon he
returned to Iraq with paints and pencils.
Whilst undertaking his assignment to complete a
certain range of artwork for the Army as the Army's War Artist, he
continued to fly for civilian organisations. He flew an Emergency
Medical Services helicopter in the Torres Strait (left) and then the border
security helicopter in East Arnhem Land and the Eastern Gulf of
Carpentaria for the Australian Customs Service.
Powerline patrol in Queensland.
Presenting Prime Minister John Howard with a copy of
'Desert Chooks' to mark Australia's involvement in Iraq.
Conway commenced his art career quite late in life and
is completely self-taught. Originally working primarily in graphite
pencil, he has now branched out into oil paints and watercolours. His
work is in the collections of General Norman Schwarzkopf, General
Cosgrove, former Prime Minster John Howard (left) and hundreds of other
military art enthusiasts.
Conway is also an aviation consultant and trainer in
Crew Resource Management (right) , Helicopter Underwater Escape Training and
Emergency Breathing Systems training. He is a commercial pilot with ATPL
(H) and CPL (A) and is a Director of RHO Aviation Training Services P/L
and Independent Productions and Aviation Services. He accepts art
commissions, portraits, aviation training and consultancy and commercial
flying assignments as well as still serving as an Army Reserve officer.
Presenting Crew Resource Management training
to NSW Rural Fire Service