Whilst most teenagers take time out from their studies during the school holidays, 322 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC) Cadet Under Officer Christopher Davis and Cadet Flight Sergeant Stephanie Ehret both attained a Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) Air Experience Instructor (AEI) Rating.
The training courses are conducted by qualified volunteer instructors of 301 Aviation Training Flight, now based at Bathurst Aerodrome. Squadron Leader (AAFC) Bill Gleeson-Barker, Senior Aviation Officer said “Stephanie and Chris have reached a significant milestone as Air Experience Instructors and will now form part of the direct flying instruction of Cadets attending Commonwealth funded Pilot Experiences (PEX) activities in 3 Wing”. “I personally trained both and it was a pleasure issuing this rating. The responsibility these young adults now have as AEIs within the AAFC training platform is one of the highest, including those of Instructor and Officers of Cadets. They now have a rating to train personnel in the basics of flight as Pilot in Command within a high-paced and demanding aviation environment.”
Stephanie is the first female cadet instructor within 3 Wing AAFC, and hopes more females will follow. She is honoured to be entrusted with the AEI rating and feels a great sense of accomplishment. “It means a great deal to me to be able to further develop as an aviatrix by adding the responsibility and pleasure of teaching our newest pilots. Someone’s first flight is one they are always going to remember and is very important in helping to establish whether or not they will pursue a career in aviation.” Stephanie said.
Flying has always been a dream for Chris, with his first gliding air experience given as a thirteenth birthday present from his parents. Since 2011 he has attended several 3 Wing AAFC flying camps achieving gliding solo in 2012, powered solo in 2014 and attaining a gliding “C” certificate. Chris said “Gaining the AEI rating was a very proud moment in my short flying career, and I feel honoured to be one of only a few cadets who have achieved this in recent times.”
Cadets are able to qualify as a solo glider pilot from age 15, or solo a powered aircraft from age 16. That is, they can fly before they can learn to drive a car.