THEY may not be able to drive a car, but they certainly know how to maneuver an aircraft.
A group of Australian Air Force cadets are currently in Bathurst showcasing their gliding and powered flying skills for assessment in the National Aviation Competition.
The participating cadets are all between 15 and 17 years of age and appropriately qualified in both solo gliding and solo powered flight.
Flight Lieutenant Justin Stevens of 35 Squadron, who helped to instruct the cadets, was full of praise for the level of skill they brought to the competition.
“The cadets have been well motivated, enthusiastic and well-developed in their skills considering their age,” he said.
However, they are still prone to mistakes, and that is where having someone more experienced who is “hyper vigilant” comes in handy.
“They are generally going quite well, but being new students, they will always find ways to surprise even the most experienced instructors,” Flt Lt Stevens said.
In addition to the practical work, the cadets are also required to complete a theory exam covering all aspects of recreational pilots theory.
Flt Lt Stevens said the cadets get a lot out of the Australian Air Force program and the National Aviation Competition.
“For the trainees, it is not only a wonderful opportunity for them to meet and mix with others from around the country, but also to have guidance, mentoring and tutelage from experienced [personnel],” he said.
Among the cadets participating in the gliding portion of the event were Cadet Corporal Ian Van Schalkwyk of 617 Squadron South Australia, 15, and Cadet Corporal Evgeny Fedorav of 219 Squadron South Queensland, 16.
“I’ve always wanted to fly. It has just been something I’ve always wanted to since I was really young,” Ian said.
His hope is to one day be involved with the Royal Flying Doctors Service, something cadets will help him to achieve.
Evgeny, who plans to be a fighter pilot, joined the cadets after being fascinated by defence from a young age.
He enjoyed being part of the National Aviation Competition.
“It is wonderful. I am meeting a lot of new people from different areas,” he said.
The cadets have been well motivated, enthusiastic and well-developed in their skills.