Air Commodore Craig Heap AM, CSC
Air Commodore Heap is a pilot with over 6600 military flying hours predominantly on the AP-3C Orion and Pilatus PC9 aircraft.
He has commanded at various levels including his last command of the RAAF’s Surveillance and Response Group (SRG) headquartered at RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW. SRG is responsible for the provision of Australia’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance capabilities; airspace surveillance and battlespace management; Air Traffic Control and Battlespace Management, and airborne early warning and control capabilities. SRG’s capabilities included the P-8A and AP-3C aircraft, the E-7A ‘Wedgetail’ aircraft, Jindalee Over the Horizon Radar, and a variety of other deployable, fixed, ground and space based surveillance and control capabilities.
AIRCDRE Heap joined the RAAF in 1984 as a direct entry pilot, graduating from Number 132 Pilots Course in June 1985. After tours on UH-1H Iroquois helicopter and the AP-3C at 11SQN, he became a Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) in 1993 and over the period 1993-1996 inclusive was the QFI at No. 2 Flight Training School, No. 292SQN and No. 11SQN respectively, before simultaneously serving as the No. 11SQN B Flight Commander/11SQN QFI. He was subsequently posted to Central Flying School, becoming the Chief Flying Instructor.
In 2002 he studied at the Canadian Forces Command and Staff Course in Toronto and upon return to Australia joined the Directing Staff at the Australian Command and Staff College, for which he was awarded the Chief of Defence Force Commendation for his service to the College.
During 2005 AIRCDRE Heap was the Commander of the AP-3C Task Group in the Middle East and for his command of the Task Group was awarded the Vice Chief of Defence Force Commendation. Returning from deployment he served as the Commanding Officer of No. 10SQN until 2007, Chief of Staff to the Chief of Defence Force 2008-2009, and in 2010 completed a Master of Arts (Strategy) Degree with Deakin University. AIRCDRE Heap returned to the Middle East in November 2010 as the Joint Task Force 633 Air Component Commander for which he was subsequently awarded the Commendation for Distinguished Service in the 2012 Queens Birthday Honours list. In October 2011 AIRCDRE Heap was appointed Officer Commanding No. 92WG.
During early 2014 AIRCDRE Heap deployed to Perth as the Commander of the Multi-national Air Task Group searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. For his leadership of the Air Task Group, which included long range air search asset contributions from Malaysia, NZ, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the US, he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC).
AIRCDRE Heap was promoted to his current rank in July 2014 and assumed the post of Director General Aerospace Development within Capability Development Group. On 02 December 2015 he assumed command of Surveillance and Response Group and was simultaneously appointed the Senior Australian Defence Force Officer (SADFO) at RAAF Williamtown. His appointment as SADFO concluded in December 2017. In late 2019 AIRCDRE Heap transitioned to serve in the active Reserve as an Operational Member on Airworthiness Board Panel, the CFACC for RIMPAC 2020, the incumbent Head of Airshows, and a Vice Chairman for ADF Rugby Union. In the 2020 Queens Birthday Honours list, AIRCDRE Heap was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.
Air Commodore Heap is married to Wendy and has three children; James (24), Stuart (22), and Alyce (20). He enjoys scuba diving, rugby, and endeavours to fly as an instructor with the Air Force Cadets when possible.