Leading Cadet Celeste Cardona is a member of 323 Squadron and an avid aviator, here is her story behind how she is finding powered flying training in the Air Force Cadets.

In September last year I went on my first powered flying course at Bathurst with cadets, where we were flying Piper PA-28 Cherokees which are small front propped planes. Upon arriving you quickly make friends and meet people of similar age and interest in flying. All the instructors are so well trained that it was hard to be nervous about anything going wrong in the air. The experience of being in such a small plane in the vast sky is incredible and honestly a one of a kind experience.

Most of my life I would never of thought of being a pilot but after that one flight I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The staff are amazing and its evident how much hard work and behind the scenes action goes into the program. The first few flights are mainly for getting the feel of the movements and learning the effects of controls in the aircraft. Not only had I found a new career path but I had somehow overcome my motion sickness which had been a slight problem in the more advanced flights which required looking at the instrument panel more frequently. With the help and advice I received from the instructors and other students its no longer a problem and I’m able to experience flying to its full potential.

Flying is nothing like the movies show, its a lot of hard work that requires serious dedication and commitment. Before a flight all students do a theory lesson on what their gonna be learning that day in the air. Most instructors ask you questions related to what your learnt in your theory before and during the flight and its important to know them, so most evenings are spent with fellow flyers studying the content learnt and preparing for your next flight. I recently just completed my second course as an intermediate where I did emergency landings, engine failures, stalling and circuits. I am currently studying for my pre solo knowledge quiz which I will be sitting in September as well as doing steep turns and flying at unusual altitudes and if all goes well then going solo in December as i will be 15 by then.Being only 14 and already having spent 11 hours flying and being able to go solo before even having driven a car is what I find really crazy and not something many people get to experience. Looking out at 3500ft, at all the fields and houses and knowing that nothing is holding you down and right at that moment the only thing you need to focus on is yourself and the plane is one of the best feelings ever.

The course has benefited me in many ways and has helped me grow, learn and prove myself as a capable flyer and has shown me that anythings possible and you never know whats gonna come out of an opportunity so you should always take advantage of it. I have met many new people and made new friends. If it weren’t for cadets I would never of gotten this amazing and unique experience which I’m extremely grateful for and will continue to expand it.

By LCDT Celeste Cardona with assistance from CSGT Fiona VOK