Close encounter that led to a celebrated career
Mark Binskin was born in Campbelltown, NSW, and as long as he can remember he has always wanted to fly.
Inspired by his father’s love of flying, his desire to fly was reinforced when two Mirage jets flew low over his home and the trailing pilot looked out of the cockpit directly at him.
From that moment, he focused on flying fast jets.
Now retired, Air Chief Marshal Binskin began his military flying career with the Navy and was appointed Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) on June 30, 2014.
“I applied to the Air Force and the Navy to become a pilot and was accepted for both, but the inspiration to land on an aircraft carrier took me to Navy to start off with,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“Boy, if you want to get adrenaline going, then landing a fast jet on what was one of the smallest carrier decks in the world at the time was fantastic.
“I was on exchange with the Air Force flying Mirages when the government of the day decided to scrap the fixed-wing component of the fleet air arm, so it was a natural decision to transfer to Air Force.”
During his career, Air Chief Marshal Binskin, among other things, served with No. 77 Squadron, was commander of air combat group and was responsible for the conduct of all coalition air operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Following an appointment as Air Commander Australia, he assumed the position of Chief of Air Force.
“Chief of Air Force was a busy time and I became Vice-Chief of the Defence Force doing a lot of staff work and liaison across Defence and with government,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“I came home one night and said to [my wife] Gitte, ‘I need to go flying again’.
“We decided that we should buy an aeroplane and we ended up with a Bird-Dog.
“Flying for me is a passion, and while it was a job for a while, it gives me a chance be able to focus on something other than work and to relax in an environment I feel very comfortable in.
“The Air Force turning 100 is very special. It has played a large part in the Australian community and globally over the past 100 years and it’s a history that we need to commemorate and give the Australian public a chance to be part of as well.”
Air Force will mark 100 years of service to Australia on March 31. For details, visit www.airforce.gov.au/100.