Meet the cadets

Each term, we 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 Leading Cadet Elana Zhang, who is currently in the Proficiency Stage of training at 321SQN.

1. Briefly, tell us something about yourself.

Hello, my name is Elana Zhang. I am 13, currently in Year 8 at Lambton High School. I can speak English and Cantonese fluently and I am currently learning how to read and write Mandarin and I can also speak a little bit of Korean. I love listening to different types of genres of music and music in different languages. I play the piano and I love to sing and dance anytime of the day.

I am also a CDT in 321 (City of Newcastle) Squadron. I joined the squadron in 2019.

2. Why did you join the AAFC?

When I was little, I watched a TV drama and there was only one female pilot and I wanted to be that female pilot, so I told my mum. She told me that when I’m older I can join cadets. In 2019, my mum went shopping in Westfield Kotara and saw a display that promoted 321 (City of Newcastle) Squadron. She took me to one of the Wednesday night recruit information nights and I remember waiting outside the gate and being greeted by very nice cadets. I was so drawn to the cadet uniforms that it was as easy as filling in some paperwork and finally joining 321SQN. Since then I had an interest in being a female pilot and I thought joining the AAFC would let me understand more about this interest.

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

So far, my best experience in the AAFC are firearms range days. Before you are allowed to participate, you learn all about firearms handling and safety. I loved it because I could experience shooting, since you don’t normally get to experience it outside cadets.

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

The most challenging thing for me in the AAFC is balancing all the activities that the AAFC has to offer with other components of my life. Joining the AAFC is a huge commitment, spending at least three and a half hours on every Wednesday night with other additional activities all throughout the term may be very challenging. Outside of Wednesday night parades and fun AAFC activities throughout the term, a lot of work goes into maintaining top standards in my AAFC uniform. Taking our uniform to the dry cleaners, polishing our boots and ironing goes into the behind the scenes of an AAFC Cadet. Out of many things the AAFC has taught me is ironing. Growing up in my household we have never ironed anything, so now I am the only one in my house that can iron, which is cool.

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

In the beginning of my AAFC cadet journey I have set myself 3 goals for me to achieve.

Firstly, I really want to attend promotion courses to work my way up the rank structure in the AAFC. I would love to slowly build leadership and take on new roles. I am now a Cadet (or CDT). I really look forward to holding a senior leadership role within 321SQN and using this experience to prepare myself to other promotion courses and outside cadets.

Secondly, I would want to experience flying courses. As I mentioned earlier, I would love to become a pilot when I’m older and I’m sure flying courses may help me in the future.

Thirdly, I would really want to make new friends in cadets. Through the time of my cadet in 321SQN, I have met so many nice, friendly and funny friends they definitely made my cadet journey so much fun and enjoying.

6. What would you say to potential cadets?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In 321SQN you will be surrounded by very nice people. At first, it can be very scary asking for a new piece of uniform or asking about something you don’t understand but don’t be afraid to speak out. You are better off asking for help than feeling guilty on what you don’t know. Try to be organized and have everything that can be done the night before, so you won’t have to panic about being late to a parade night or activity.

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

Definitely. Even if you are not interested in aircraft or anything AAFC related, it still teaches you life skills that you would need to know in life. In the AAFC you learn the values honor, honesty, courage, integrity, loyalty, teamwork and citizenship which is very important in everyday life.