In 1978, the Australian government decided to purchase two passenger jets for strategic transport, Qantas agreed to sell the government two Boeing 707-338s for $14.5 million, the first was transferred to the RAAF in March 1979.
Located at RAAF Base Richmond, New South Wales, the B707s were initially operated by No. 37 Squadron, under the command of WGCDR Geoff Lumsden, CO 37SQN (1st August 1978 ~ 18th June 1981.)
The first two aircraft were A20-624 & A20-627 (ex VH-EAD & VH-EAG respectively).
VH-EAD became A20-624 “Richmond Town”
VH-EAG became A20-627 “Windsor Town”.
During No. 37 Squadron’s years of operating B707 aircraft they were primarily utilised for Butterworth personnel and families changeover operating between Sydney (Mascot) and Penang (Paya Lebar) airports, personnel and equipment deployments / redeployments within Australia and overseas plus VIP travel for the Federal Government Prime Minister, Ministerial Staff and members of the press contingent.
Some notable tasks undertaken by the 37Sqn B707s include:
June 1979: 1 x B707 task Singapore to Sydney conveying Vietnamese refugees. 1 x B707 task Djakarta to Sydney conveying Vietnamese refugees.
July 1979: 1 x B707 PM (Malcolm Fraser) VIP trip to Africa.
September 1979: 1 x B707 Governor General (Sir Zelman Cowan) VIP to UK and return for funeral of Lord Mountbatten.
October 1979: 1 x B707 Deputy PM (Doug Anthony) Trade Mission to SEA.
No. 37 Squadron continued to operate these two airframes until 2nd February 1981. On that date No. 33 Flight, under the command of WGCDR Dave Grierson, was formed, then ultimately No. 33 Squadron, RAAF Base Richmond in July 1983.