Cadet of the Year 2014


Australian Air League Cadet of the Year 2014

During the weekend of 15th/16th February 2014, the Chair of the Council of the Australian Air League, the League’s Secretary, Federal Staff and the Executive Commissioners had the pleasure, and honour, to spend a Saturday and Sunday with the ‘cream’ of the Australian Air League’s youth membership.
The candidates were:

  • Sgt Darren Wood – Sutherland Shire Squadron (NSW Boys Group)
  • Cpl Thomas Bladier – Berwick Boys Squadron (Victoria Group)
  • Sqn.Sgt. Thomas Houghton – Bundaberg Squadron (Queensland Group)
  • Cpl David Biar – Parafield Squadron (South Australia Wing)
  • Sgt Maia Hulin – Doyalson Squadron (NSW Girls Group)
  • Cpl Rebecca Newbery – Sunbury Squadron (Victoria Group)


The selection of the Cadet of the Year took place at the NSW Boys’ Group Air Activities base at Camden in conjunction with the meeting of the Council of the Australian Air League being conducted on the Saturday and the League’s Annual General meeting on the Sunday.

Interstate members of the Council of the League, together with the candidates from Queensland, Victoria and South Australia travelled to Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport, were met on arrival and transported from Camden to meet up with the NSW based members of the Council and the two candidates from the NSW Girls’ and Boys’ Groups.

Unlike the weather in Melbourne the previous year where is was extremely hot, Camden experienced low cloud and rain which prevented flying on the Saturday however the candidates experienced a visit to the control tower and prepared for the presentations to be conducted on the Saturday evening. During the afternoon 2nd Officer Anthony Barrett of Epping Squadron, a previous Cadet of the Year winner and 2011/2012 Chair of the Cadet of the Year Advisory Council (COYAG) ,met with the candidates to discuss the Council, its operation and the involvement the 2013/2014 candidates would have in its operation in the next 12 months.

Accommodation was at the Narellan Motor Inn and dinner was provided at Bluey’s Brasserie at the Camden Sports Club where the presentations would take place after enjoying dinner.

As part of the Cadet of the Year evaluation process all candidates are required to make a 15 minute presentation to enhance their opportunity to be selected as the League’s Cadet of the Year. This year the topic of their presentation was “How to Engage and Retain older Cadets”. All of the Senior Officers marked these presentations taking into account delivery, confidence and relevance which resulted in a score representing 30% of the total assessment.

The Sunday saw marginally better weather and a return to Camden Airport where the interviews were to take place with a panel of Federal Commissioners. The interviews form 50% of the total assessment and include answering set questions as well as general discussion.

Whilst the interviews were being conducted all candidates’ experienced a 45 minute flight around the local area, in an AAL Air Activities owned Piper Warrior aircraft, when on completion the ‘sky opened up’ and rain ensued for the balance of the day.

Any of the nominated candidates would be able to represent our Organisation with pride and should be very proud of their performance. Again this year, the standard was higher than in the past and the range of results much closer. All were winners!

After lunch the results were announced in front of the League’s senior Officers and the Cadet of the Year badges were presented to the winning candidates.
The winners were:

  • Sergeant Maia Hulin, New South Wales Girls’ Group and
  • Sergeant Darren Wood, New South Wales Boys’ Group


On behalf of the Australian Air League Inc., may I extend hearty congratulations to the winners and commiserations to their colleagues who were not successful. To miss out on selection in such company is no disgrace as those selected were truly outstanding in all aspects and their Parents, Officers and colleagues can be very proud of them.

The League’s thanks go to the NSW Boys’ Group for making the venue available, the NSW Boys’ Group Air Activities staff that assisted throughout the weekend and to the Debbie and Mark Perinich who provided the assembled group with a fabulous lunch on both the Saturday and Sunday. Thank you also to the NSW based Federal staff that provided the transport.

All who attended the weekend should be proud of their individual contribution in making the weekend the success it was and an experience for our candidates that they will not forget quickly.

As the worthy candidates return to their Groups, the League looks forward to their participation in the COYAG processes.

Chief Comr. Ian Rickards, LM., DSA., MSA

Media release can be downloaded here and photos are available online here.



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