Former Spitfire pilot Sid Handsaker of No.45I RAAF squadron would have loved to have flown the Hawker Hurricane after having flown a number of Spitfire Marks but nothing eventuated.

However, a high performance Spitfire Mk.XVIII had been loaned to this Australian squadron and Sid had volunteered to have a familiarisation flight.

This seasoned fighter pilot had said,” When I pulled the nose up whilst doing some aerobatics that’s when I could see the alarming fuel consumption rate of this high performance Spitfire.It was a real fuel guzzler.

After all those years Sid is still amazed at the hungry consumption rate of that Spitfire’s Rolls Royce Griffon engine.

After the cessation of wartime hostilities he would work for Davies and Cannington in King Street Newcastle as a stationer from 1948 to 198I

This highly industrious sales representative would fly out to Wagga Wagga in the heart of the NSW Riverina in a DC.3 from where he would hire a vehicle to cover the towns of Wagga Wagga, Narrandera, Leeton and Griffith. He would be away from home for a month at a time.

Here was a trail blazer building up his trade for the benefit of the company and where his pleasantness of character opened many new doors.

This ambassador of goodwill became a Group Leader for the local scout movement at the Newcastle suburb of Lambton and where he would give twenty one years of dedicated service to this organisation.

To sit on his balcony as he fed the local bird life was an inspiration in itself. This routine would be a daily ritual and he had gained a reputation from his fine feathered friends that was second to none!

Butcher birds, magpies, lorikeets, corellas and kookaburras all fell under this man’s spell, not to mention the bribery of mince, bread and honey. This bird loving pilot was held in the highest of regards by his friends on the wing.

Sid loved playing sport including cricket which took a high priority. He liked to bat and when acting as wicket keeper for local England side Heaton he sustained a smack on the nose requiring an impromptu outdoor realignment . Brought tears to my eyes was his only comment. This keen Aussie sportsman played soccer, cricket and hockey and loved playing them all.

After his retirement Sid became maintenance man for son Greg’s property interests. Here was a good Samaritan who just didn’t understand the meaning of slowing down.

But now the shadows of night are beginning to lengthen and he’s slowing down a bit whilst his sharpness of memory is beginning to take a backward step!

Not bad for a lad of 97 years and who still continues to go to the gym three times a week and where his great “Aussie” smile continues to radiate a determination that there’s still a lot of fight left in one of Newcastle’s special sons.

The Spitfire Association has been enriched by his presence and contribution over many years. Keep going Sid Handsaker. You are a wonderful inspiration to so many.

Ron Elliott

Life Member

The Spitfire Association.

Picture by Peter Stoop, from this article about Sid in the Newcastle Herald.