Warrant Officer Rod Cairns
Pencil on paper
297 x 420mm
This image was a special commission by Warrant Officer Rod Cairns' wife to commemorate his achieving 6000 hours as an aircrewman loadmaster on Caribou tactical transport aircraft.
She requested that it be kept a secret from him and so it was necessary to employ some subterfuge and cooperation from his Commanding Officer and his squadron colleagues. At the time I was the Aviation Safety Officer at 5th Aviation Regiment that was located on the same base as WOFF Cairns' squadron - No 38 Squadron, RAAF. Our Regiment had an excellent relatioship with 38 Squadron and I personally knew several members of the squadron.
I explained the situation with the squadron's Commanding Officer and between us we came up with a plausible scenario. I would play the role of an Army Officer writing a story about RAAF/Army cooperation and we needed an image of a member of aircrew standing in front of a Caribou. WOFF Cairns was given the task, much to his chagrin, of being the subject of the photo. In his mind, there were more junior airmen who should be doing such a menial task.
But like a good Senior NCO, he did as he was directed to and dutifully posed for photos while I asked him a number of questions for 'the article'. In the meantime, his squadron buddies found his logbook and took some copies of the pages that showed the the sortie where he clicked over his 6000 hours on the aircraft type.
With the necessary photographs from which to do the portrait, and copies of his logbook, I was able to create the portrait and then put together a composite image of him, his aircraft with the tail number of the aircraft in which he achieved is milestone; the two squadrons in which he served - No 35 and No 38, and his logbook.
The original portrait and the composite image were framed and provided to Mrs Cairns. She presented it to him and he was incredibly moved.
The following day I received a phone call from WOFF Cairns apologising for being so grumpy the day I took the photographs. He had no idea what was going on during the photoshoot. We both had a good laugh and I had another satisfied customer.
||The composite image showing WOFF Cairns; the badges of the two squadron in which he served; the aircraft on which he crewed the day of his 6000 hours; and an extract of his logbook for that milestone.|
|Detail of the milestone included on the image.|