Ferguson, James LEUT (P)

Ferguson, James LEUT (P)

James Thomas Ferguson, originally of Redcliffe, QLD died on Wednesday 24thOctober 2018 at Koh-i-Noor nursing home, Perth. He was 89.

James was born on May 21, 1929 at Lady Bowen Hospital, Brisbane. He did not start school until late, as his single mum was a cook on a remote station near Cunnamulla in Western Qld. When he turned 11 she realised he was illiterate and sent him to attend Marist Brothers College, Ashgrove as a border in Brisbane.

 He joined the Navy at 19 as an electrician’s mate. He was ambitious and soon became an officer and pilot of the prestigious Fleet Air Arm. In 1952 they were sent to the UK for training in Lossiemouth on Seafires, and to Cornwall on Sea Furies.  He served on 805 Squadron (Sea Furies) and 723 Squadron (Sycamores).  He returned to HMAS Sydney in 1953 to engaged in peacekeeping duties in Korea. 

In 1958 he married Jill Irene Lewis and together they had one child, Lisa. After ten years James went on to marry another three times.

Jim transferred to the (inactive) Emergency List at a LEUT in 1956 and worked for the ANA’s Helicopter Division, and became Reg Ansett’s private pilot. Over the period 1968-1970 he reengaged in the Navy, including for short periods of service with the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam.

In 1963 James branched out to buy a Hughes 269 VH-IHB and began a commercially successful business in the Australian and South Western Pacific region in the helicopter chartering field. ‘Rotor Work Helicopters’ pursued pioneering exploits, such as conducting gravity surveys for the Australian Government in the central and western deserts, piloting for Skippy the Bush Kangaroo TV series; ferrying goods in the New Guinean highlands and creating the Wales Surf Rescue service at Long Reef, Sydney in 1977. Whilst working at Well 44, near Balgo Hills in the Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia, he came across a woman with her pickaninny (his words), the child was malnourished. James flew them to safety where they were well looked after. The son was so thankful he named himself ‘Helicopter’ and is now an internationally renowned artist. He contacted James to be present at a recent exhibition in Melbourne, but unfortunately he was too unwell to travel.

In 1969 James was entered into the Guinness Book of Records for seeing the last Tasmanian Tiger whilst flying low along Birthday Bay Beach in the south of Tasmania.

During the 1970’s James retired to the land to become a successful pastoralist.   

He will be sorely missed.   RIP. 

A Funeral Service to celebrate the life of Mr James Thomas (Jim) Ferguson was held in Padbury on Friday 02 November 2018, followed by a wake for his family and friends. There will be a Brisbane Memorial Service at a date TBC.

Comment (1)

  • Bernie B.

    Dear  Webmaster. Thanks for writing a really beaut account of Jim’s life, there is a lot of trivia I could add: for example, how he introduced cattle mustering by chopper to Oz which American pilots flying for him here took back to USA & so spread all round the world. The important thing is you get all the cattle out of the scrub leaving none to become totally wild and a nuisance.

    That woman he rescued, also came from a lost Tribe that that was then unknown in that area.

    I last saw Jim when I went down to Melbourne for as Anzac Day march in1998 and I had a couple of weeks with him. About  a week after I came back home I got the news that he had suffered a stroke and because he was living alone had not been found for 3 or 4 days, so remained paralysed on his left side. To get needed help he ended up marrying Filipino lady who was here visiting a married daughter, and later took her back to her home near Manilla. All her kin prospered by his efforts but she then died and he was eventually brought home by his daughter Lisa & her family. We had hoped to perhaps get together later and do some sentimental travel when he was able, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    He was for ever involved in incidents one of which was when he was in New Guinea , I think on some Island. He was about to take off when a Witch Doctor in full regalia ran out of the nearby bush carrying a pole, which he shoved into the rotor blades. He claimed he was killing a Bird of Ill Omen. Jim had to charter a vessel to get the chopper to the mainland for repairs. I know of many others, some best not told!

    Jim was on 6 course with OFarrell,  Fargher, Hilliard, etc., all of whom are now waiting up there to welcome him. Nat Gould was his C.O ON 805. The ranks are really thinning now, of the fixed wingers. I was on 4 course so knew Jim for the best part of 70 years. I will really miss him. Bernie B.

    October 29, 2018 at 4:15 pm

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