Meet the cadets

Each term, 321 Squadron will introduce one of our cadets, who will tell us something of their time and experiences as members of 321 Squadron AAFC. This term, we introduce Acting Cadet Sergeant Cooper Ivory, who is currently in the Advanced Stage of training at 321SQN.

1. Briefly, tell us something about yourself.

Hi, my name is Cooper. I'm 15 years old, currently in Year 10 at Merewether High School. In the last 12 months, I have been participating in weekly park-runs, as well as running of a morning. I really enjoy listening to music, as well as tinkering on the piano. I have also been working as a casual employee at my local cinema for almost 15 months.

In addition to all of this, I am also an A/CSGT with 321 (City of Newcastle) Squadron. In the last 6 months, I have attended two Pilot Training/Gliding Courses. I intend on pursuing gliding further in the future, both inside and outside of the AAFC. After I leave school, I would like to study at the Australian Defence Force Academy to become a pilot or an electrical engineer.

2. Why did you join the AAFC?

Initially, my mum mentioned that her colleague's son was involved with the AAFC. I didn't give it much thought until a few months later when she mentioned it again. After some research into what the AAFC was and what cadets do, I decided to attend a recruit information night at the beginning of 2018. From there, it was as easy as completing some paperwork and finally joining 321 (City of Newcastle) Squadron. I always had an interest in aviation and I thought that joining the AAFC would be a great means to pursue my interest.

3. What has been your best experience in the AAFC?

So far, my best experience within the AAFC was a gliding course that I attended in October of last year. The course ran for 9-days at the purpose-built aviation facility for the AAFC in Bathurst. Throughout that week, we combined both theoretical and practical aspects of gliding. I was fortunate enough to receive 5 flights in a glider over the course of a week in addition to a large amount of crucial theoretical knowledge. Moving away from flying, another one of my favourite experiences within the AAFC was the 3 Wing Competitions weekend. Held every year on the Queen's Birthday long weekend, this activity is where representatives from every squadron in 3 Wing spend the weekend at RAAF Base Richmond to compete in AAFC competitions (such as Service Knowledge, Fieldcraft, Shooting, Aircraft Recognition and the Drill Team). This has been one of my favourite activities as it is a great opportunity to network and meet-up with cadets from other squadrons.

4. What do you find to be most challenging in the AAFC?

The most challenging thing for me in the AAFC is juggling all that the AAFC has to offer with the other components of my life. Joining the AAFC is a large commitment, with at least one parade every Wednesday night with additional activities all throughout the school term. To make the most out of the AAFC, I would strongly recommend attending courses during the school holidays, where you will have the opportunity to stay on RAAF Bases throughout the state, get involved in countless types of activities and network with other cadets in the Wing.

5. What do you hope to achieve in the AAFC?

My two major goals that I set at the very beginning when I joined the AAFC are as follows.

Firstly, I would like to continue attending promotion courses to work my way up to the top of the rank structure within the AAFC. However, I do think it is really important not to be fixated with the rank you want to be and to make the most out of the rank that you currently hold. Just recently, I was promoted to the rank of Acting Sergeant (or A/CSGT). I look forward to holding a senior leadership role within the squadron and gaining experience to better prepare myself for the upcoming promotion course.

Secondly, I would like to attend as many flying courses as possible in the time that I have as a cadet. As mentioned earlier, in the last 6 months I have attended two gliding courses and both were extremely worthwhile and invaluable experiences. I would encourage all cadets at 321 Squadron to nominate for these courses and to get involved with AAFC flying.

6. What would you say to potential cadets?

Don't be afraid to nominate for activities beyond the squadron because these are the opportunities that offer the greatest experiences within the AAFC. If you are interested in attending promotion courses, make it known to your fellow cadets, instructors and staff. If you are interested in flying with the AAFC, nominate and give it a go. Also, get involved with the squadron as much as possible. The squadron offers some really great activities as well, so ensure that you get involved as much as possible. Don't be afraid to speak up as well. At first, it can be very daunting on a Wednesday night but if you require a new piece of uniform or need help with a drill movement, don't be afraid to speak up. You are better off asking in the moment then waiting until the very last minute.

7. Do you think that your AAFC experience will assist with your career goals?

Most definitely. Obviously the AAFC and the ADF are two completely separate organizations, however the opportunities that are made available to cadets within the AAFC will give them a great advantage. Even if you are not interested in joining the ADF, the home training offered by the AAFC can be invaluable. For me personally, I believe that experiences such as promotion courses and gliding will assist me with achieving my career goals of becoming an electrical engineer or the dream goal of becoming a pilot.