The skies over Bathurst NSW came alive recently as teenage pilots from the Australian Air Force Cadets competed to see who would win the coveted National Aviation Competition trophies.
The 24 young pilots, with ages ranging from just 15-18 years, came from all over Australia for the annual three-day competition in both gliding and powered flying disciplines.
Each Cadet undertook four flights during the competition. The first flight let each Cadet familiarise themselves with the aircraft and operating environment. The next three flights were assessed against aviation and solo flying skills criteria. Flying was conducted over three days, followed by a presentation dinner for the awarding of trophies.
The National Aviation Competition is sponsored by QANTAS, with the four trophy winners also receiving a flying scholarship from the national carrier. The Australian Air Force Cadets thanks QANTAS for its generosity.
And the prize winners:
The Fysh-McGuiness Trophy (named after the QANTAS founders) for Best Powered Flying was won by Cadet Flight Sergeant Daniel Hughes of No 230 SQN, Springfield Qld; while the K J Broomhead Cup for Best Glider Flying was awarded to Leading Cadet Sophie Winterton, of No 328 Squadron, Bathurst NSW.
Cadet Under Officer Kurt Stanwix of No 801 Squadron, Darwin NT and Cadet Flight Sergeant Caitlin Clark of No 226 Squadron, Beenleigh Qld won the Rawdon Middleton VC Trophy respectively for Power and Gliding, which is awarded to Cadets displaying the best airmanship in their discipline.
The QANTAS Cup for Overall Best Wing was awarded to No 2 Wing, Southern Queensland.
VIPs at the presentation dinner included Air Commodore David Pietsch (representing Chief of Air Force), Group Captain Tim Sloane (representing Director General Cadets), Lieutenant Colonel Alex Smyth (ADF Pilot Selection Committee), Wing Commander (AIRTC) Gordon French Retd, Steve Padgett (AAFC National Council), and Chris Manning (AAFC National Council and a former chief pilot with QANTAS). Flight Lieutenant (AAFC) Ian Reilly was Detachment Commander.
The following cadets are also to be congratulated for their attendance and participation in the competition:
- Cadet Sergeant Thomas Bemelman – 221 Squadron
- Cadet Sergeant Joshua Kelman – 106 Squadron
- Cadet Sergeant David Larkworthy – 710 Squadron
- Cadet Sergeant Alexander Martin – 714 Squadron
- Cadet Sergeant Hugh Russell – 101 Squadron
- Cadet Corporal Maximillian Diedler – 704 Squadron
- Cadet Corporal Holly Leisemann – 208 Squadron
- Leading Cadet Ben Carter – 602 Squadron
- Leading Cadet Thomas Purden – 304 Squadron
- Leading Cadet Luke Zaccaria – 322 Squadron
- Cadet Flight Sergeant Cameron Snow – 106 Squadron
- Cadet Sergeant Jordan Blount – 311 Squadron
- Cadet Sergeant Jarod Brennfleck – 801 Squadron
- Cadet Sergeant Jake Williamson – 223 Squadron
- Cadet Corporal Eric Deuxberry – 305 Squadron
- Cadet Corporal Miles Peric – 208 Squadron
- Cadet Corporal Kyle Roberts – 609 Squadron
- Cadet Corporal Shivangi Sharma – 713 Squadron
- Leading Cadet Elizabeth Lawrence – 409 Squadron
- Leading Cadet James Simpson – 336 Squadron
- Leading Cadet Herman Smoors – 430 Squadron
Is this really happening? Are teenage Air Force Cadets flying real aircraft on their own, with no one else in the cockpit?
Yes. Australian Air Force Cadets are able to qualify as pilots of gliders and powered aircraft before they’re old enough to drive the family car. This means they can be flying a glider solo from age 15, and piloting an aircraft on their own from just 16, the minimum legal ages.
As preparation at their home Squadrons, Cadets (age range 13-20 years) also develop skills in leadership, aeronautics, navigation, bushcraft and outback survival, meteorology and radio communications, first aid and music. In addition, they undertake firearms safety training under military supervision.
As a direct result of their intense theoretical and practical leadership training, graduates of the three-week, full-time Warrant Officer and Cadet Under Officer promotion courses (conducted during summer school holidays) also qualify for the national TAFE Certificate III in Business Administration; and this can be awarded as early as age 16, giving them a massive job-seeking head-start on their peers.
In short, the Australian Air Force Cadets is a real game-changer for Australian youth, giving young people advanced autonomy, skills and courage so they can go on to effectively help lead Australia in every facet of government, business and community life, well into the 21st Century.
Story by FLTLT (AAFC) Ian Reilly.