We were saddened to hear of the sudden death of James Ernest John Davidson, O282 and late of Melbourne, on Saturday 24th June 2023.

Jim was born in Melbourne in December of 1936 and subsequently joined the RAN in 1954.

His first flight was  on 21st July, 1954, in a Tiger Moth.  In February 1955, he commenced flying the Wirraway, and from February 1956, the Firefly.  From February ‘56, he also flew the Sea Fury, and continued from then until December 1959, variously flying the Sea Fury, Vampire, Sea Venom and Auster.
A couple of notable incidents along the way were:
  • On May 22nd, 1956, he had an engine failure in a Sea Fury, and conducted a forced landing on Currawong Beach, near Jervis Bay. The Squadron Diary reported: “Yet another Sea Fury was lost when Sub Lieutenant Davidson experienced engine failure during a straffing approach. Fortunately he was able to carry out a successful wheels up landing on the beach about half a mile north of the position where 103 was put down on the previous flying day. The exact cause of the engine failure is not yet known, and the aircraft was only slightly damaged during the landing. Unfortunately the recovery of the wreck from the rather inaccessible point caused a good deal more damage to be done to the aircraft.”
  • On October 20th, 1958, conducting a night touch and go on HMAS Melbourne, in a Sea Venom, he misjudged his approach and damaged both the landing gear and the round down. He had to return to Nowra for a precautionary landing.
From January 1960 until June 1962, he flew the Sycamore helicopter.
Jim therefore had the distinction of serving in 724, 805, 724, 808, 724 and 723 Squadrons during his time in the RAN.
On joining TAA in 1962, Jim trained on the DC3, then flew the Viscount.
He returned to choppers in July 1963, initially on the Hiller 12E, then the Bell 47 from October that year. In June 1964 he started on the L188(Electra), and variously flew the Viscount, Electra and B47 until December’65.
He commenced as an FO on the B727 in February ‘66, but continued to fly the Bell 47 as well, until December ‘67.  His last chopper flight was in fact Xmas Day 1967, when he participated in the search for Harold Holt.
Jim gained his first fixed wing command with the airline in June ‘71, on the F27, had a 12 month stint back as FO on the B727 from March 1972 due to an internal restructure of the company, before returning to his command position on the Fokker. From 1975 to 1978 he was Flight Captain of that fleet.
He then transitioned on to the DC9, where he was a Check Captain for a while, before being appointed Assistant Senior Regional Captain in 1979, followed by Senior Regional Captain, until 1982.
His training commenced for command on the B727 in April 1981, and he flew that craft until February ‘84. Through 1982-83 he held the management position of Flight Superintendent of Line Training.
In March 1984, he attained his command on the A330, and concurrently held the management position of Flight Superintendent Training, then Assistant Flight Standards Manager.
Early in ‘89, Jim opted to do his command on the B737 as it was the only aircraft in the company he hadn’t flown.  Of course, everything came to an abrupt and distressing end with the advent of the pilots dispute August/September that year.
Post dispute, he was keen on getting in at the ground level of a start up operation, and after a few false starts, Southern Cross was born.  It transitioned in to Compass Mk 2, and he commenced training on the MD80 in May 1992. From the outset, until its sad demise in March ‘93, he also held the position of Line Operations Manager.  The last time he took to the skies was a 3 day trip commencing March 31st 1993, to ferry one of the MD80s back to its owner in Shannon, Ireland.
Jim married his beloved wife Phyll, with a Naval guard of honour, in December, 1958.
Son Garry was born in November ‘59, daughter Susan in September ‘ 61, son David in August ‘64, and son Stuart in September ‘68.  Tragically, Garry passed away in 2017, but the close knit family remained together, with Jim and Phyll enjoying 64 years of marriage until the sad passing of Jim on the 24/06/2023

Jim’s funeral was be held on Monday 3rd July 2023 at 1400 at Le Pines Funeral Eltham Chapel, 848 Main Road Eltham Vic. Afterwards to the Montmorency Eltham RSL, 16 Mountain View Rd, Montmorency.

You can still view the funeral service by clicking here, until (ie up to 7/10/23).

Our thanks to Sue Davidson,  Jim’s daughter, for the detail of Jim’s extraordinary life. His duty well done, may he rest in peace.