PILOT in training Megan MacDonald gained incredible insights into her great uncle during filming for the Channel Nine series In Their Footsteps.
The mum of three from Gayndah in central Queensland spent two weeks travelling through Australia and Europe to retrace Tony Boyd’s eventful, if short, life.
The charismatic RAAF fighter pilot was part of the large-scale air fights in the Siege of Malta, a brutal two-year military campaign during WWII which earned the Mediterranean Island the titled of “the most bombed place on Earth”.
Boyd died in action at the age of just 22, but MacDonald learned his extraordinary efforts in the sky were significant.
“I don’t want to sound corny, but a lot of men and women made sacrifices and a lot of them lost their lives,” she said.
“I’m not saying he won the war on this own, but (it shows) just the difference that one man can make - the morale to his squadron, his flying ability. To be able to pass that on not only to my family and my children but also it’s going on national TV so other people will know his story as well.”
Incredibly, Boyd had the same amount of flying hours as his great niece when he was sent off to fight against the Italians and the notorious German Luftwaffe.
“I’ve got under 20 hours and he went to war with the same experience,” she said.
“You’re still trying to work out holding (the plane) straight and level, let alone flying into combat and being shot at and trying to do tactical manoeuvres. Obviously he was talented, but it’s hard to comprehend.”
MacDonald’s trip to Europe included flying in a dual Spitfire plane in England and a Tiger Moth in Malta – two experiences which have further solidified her love of flying.
“I’m not yet a solo pilot so to have flown in a Spitfire and taken the controls is, ah, what words do you use to describe that?”
Memorable and significant, just like the life of Pilot Officer Tony Boyd.
In Their Footsteps airs Sundays at 6.30pm on Nine.
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