Air Vice Marshal Ellis Charles Wackett, CB, CBE (13 August 1901 – 3 August 1984) was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Its chief engineer from 1935 to 1959, he served on the RAAF's controlling body, the Air Board, for a record seventeen years, and has been credited with infusing operations with new standards of airworthiness. Commencing his service career as a Royal Australian Navy cadet during World War I, Wackett transferred to the Air Force in 1923 while on an engineering course in Britain. He qualified as a pilot before completing his studies and returning to Australia, where he inaugurated parachute instruction within the RAAF and made the country's first freefall descent from a military aircraft in 1926. The following year, he led a three-month survey flight to Papua New Guinea.
Wackett became the RAAF's senior engineer with his appointment as Director of Technical Services in 1935. A wing commander at the outbreak of World War II, he rose to air commodore by 1942 and assumed the role of Air Member for Engineering and Maintenance. He established the Technical Branch as a separate department of the RAAF in 1948, and was promoted to air vice marshal the same year. Wackett served as Air Member for Technical Services until leaving the military in 1959, having been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Companion of the Order of the Bath. From 1960 to 1968, he was a member of the Australian National Airlines Commission, parent of Trans Australia Airlines. Generally known as "Wack", or "EC" (to distinguish him from his elder brother, aircraft designer Lawrence James Wackett or "LJ"), his prominent chin and nose also earned him the nickname "Punch". He died in 1984, aged 83.
Jump from the clouds (The Australian Gazette No. 800)
June 7, 2017