Willow spreads her wings over Wyndham

Whereas most teenagers are learning to drive in the hope of eventually getting their car license, Werribee 14 year old Willow Plenty is aiming a bit higher. Literally.

Fourteen year old Willow Plenty from Werribee is an aspiring pilot and Senior Cadet of the Year 2023 with the Australian Air League. (Damjan Janevski)

Rather than bunny hopping around an empty shopping centre carpark, Willow spends her spare time gliding serenely above Wyndham as she pursues her dream of becoming a professional pilot.

“The first time I went gliding was in 2019 when I was 9,” said Willow.

“I was very short I couldn’t reach the rudder peddles.”

Read the article in the Wyndam Star Weekly here.

Queensland Group Training Camp 2024

Held at the Currimundi Recreation Centre, the 2024 Queensland Group Training Camp brought officers and cadets together to embark on a successful weekend of training, drill instruction, and team-building adventure. Against the backdrop of lush greenery and the sounds of the ocean, participants had the opportunity to hone their skills in instruction, leadership, administration, and drill training.

Instruction and leadership take centre stage at the training camp, where experienced officers can impart their wealth of knowledge and expertise to eager cadets. Under the guidance of these mentors, cadets are empowered to embrace challenges, instruct effectively, and chart a course towards success in the Air League, life and the aviation industry.

Administration is a vital component of the training camp experience, and young officers learned the importance of effective communication, organisation, and teamwork in executing seamless operations. Through hands-on exercises, lectures and officer panels, participants gained practical insights into managing resources, coordinating activities, and navigating the complexities of Squadron leadership.

Drill sessions add a touch of precision and discipline to the training camp, instilling in cadets the values of respect, teamwork, and attention to detail. From perfecting marching formations to mastering uniform regulations, participants learned through teaching and practice. Beyond the physical aspects, drill fosters a sense of unity and teamwork amongst cadets, strengthening bonds that endure long after the training camp concludes.

Saturday evening found the cadets and officers alike celebrating Jake Raine’s birthday. Sharing a delicious red velvet birthday cake and singing “Happy Birthday” created yet another memory for the group of friends who have spent many years together. However, even a birthday celebration wasn’t enough to overshadow the upcoming drill lessons and assessments that followed.

The final parade provided an opportunity for Queensland Group to welcome Glenn Raine to the Group Air Activities role and express appreciation to Mike Hansen for his time, effort, and skills during his time in the Air League. Recently graduating from cadet to warrant officer and from warrant officer to second officer saw three fresh young officers round up the weekend with inspiration for those following the same path.

After lunch on Sunday, the cadets and officers departed the training camp with hearts full of inspiration, minds enriched with knowledge, and spirits ignited, ready for another successful year in the League. For officers and cadets alike, the training camp serves as a launching pad for personal growth, professional development, and lifelong friendships, ensuring that the legacy of the Australian Air League continues to soar to new heights.

Queensland Officer’s Conference 2024

In January, the Queensland Group held its annual Officer’s Conference, which was a great success and attended by Officers from Squadrons throughout the Group. During the event, the Officer committed to excellence in training, planning, marketing, and fostering a sense of camaraderie among our dedicated officers.

The corner of the conference was training with informative sessions designed to enhance leadership skills, promote excellence, and refine the knowledge and expertise needed to excel in their roles and inspire the next generation of aviators.

Sqn Captain Mortimer receiving his promotion and confirmation of appointment as Squadron OC, Forest Lake

Effective planning was another key focus of the conference, as officers collaborated to strategise and coordinate upcoming events and initiatives. Through preparation and forward-thinking strategies, they aim to elevate the Queensland Group’s presence and impact within the community, ensuring that the programs offered continue to thrive and reach new heights.

Marketing also plays a crucial role in promoting the Air League’s mission and values, with discussions, brainstorming and plans to be implemented during the conference. By harnessing the power of social media, community partnerships, and outreach efforts, the Group is focusing on attracting new members who share their passion for aviation and leadership development.

Of course, no conference would be complete without a bit of fun and camaraderie, and the dinner event certainly delivered on that front. Officers had the opportunity to unwind, connect with friends, and celebrate their shared achievements in a relaxed atmosphere. Laughter filled the air as stories were shared and friendships strengthened, reinforcing the sense of community that is at the heart of the Australian Air League.

Gliding Scholarship – Victoria Group

The Geelong Gliding Club (GGC) recently awarded Cpl Willow Plenty from Point Cook Squadron in Victoria a scholarship to kickstart her gliding training.

The club committee would like to support younger people’s involvement in gliding and also provide more opportunities for girls to get into it. This package includes membership to the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) and her first five instructional flights as a student pilot.

Willow impressed the Geelong Gliding Club committee through her efforts as a Corporal in Point Cook Squadron, having won both Junior and Senior Victorian Cadet of the Year and this year represented Victoria Group as the Federal Cadet of the Year candidate for Victoria Group.

When presenting the scholarship to Cpl Plenty, Mr Steven McAvoy, president of the Geelong Gliding Club, also gave the Point Cook Squadron cadets, Officers, and parents an informative presentation on gliding and what cadets can expect when they visit a gliding club and go for their first training flights.

Our thanks go to the Geelong Gliding Club committee and members for their support of the Australian Air League and youth in aviation.

Forest Lake Fieldcraft Hike

Late last year, five cadets, accompanied by two dedicated adult leaders from Forest Lake Squadron, had a memorable experience undertaking a 20 km hike as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is an exciting new challenge available to cadets in Queensland Group, with the first group of eight participants embarking on a journey of personal growth, development, and adventure. The Award is a youth programme founded in the United Kingdom in 1956 by the Duke of Edinburgh, which has since expanded to 144 nations worldwide.

Under the guidance of the Air League’s Queensland Award Leader, Squadron Captain Biggs, five of these promising individuals planned, prepared, and participated in a 20km hike amidst the vast expanse of a 3000km cropping farm located 42 km outside the picturesque town of Dalby. 

As they started their hike from the farmhouse, the cadets were greeted with a 3000-acre cropping farm and an exceptionally hot day.  Throughout the expedition, the cadets encountered numerous obstacles that tested their skills and teamwork. 

They navigated through irrigation channels, walked along the rocky creek, and conquered steep, slippery inclines of dam walls. These physical challenges not only strengthened their physical fitness but also fostered a sense of self-belief and the capacity to overcome hurdles. They learned in a very practical way about self-care, hydration and resting in shaded areas.

As daylight transitioned into night, the cadets gathered around the campfire, eagerly sharing stories, laughter, and creative hiking meals. The adults provided guidance, sharing their knowledge of survival skills, first aid, navigation and safety in nature. The second night was the most memorable event of the camp, with a massive storm hitting the campsite and the cadets seeking shelter in the farmhouse for the rest of the night. 

The cadets would like to thank the adult leaders for their unwavering commitment to safety and growth. Their dedication and expertise were instrumental in making this remarkable experience possible.

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