Lure of adventure: Fifteen-year-old Australian Air Force cadet Mikayla Hughes, from Lismore, took the opportunity to participate in a ‘flying experience’ at Lismore Aerodrome yesterday.
Lure of adventure: Fifteen-year-old Australian Air Force cadet Mikayla Hughes, from Lismore, took the opportunity to participate in a ‘flying experience’ at Lismore Aerodrome yesterday. Cathy Adams

Sky the limit for Air Force Cadet

THE lure of adventure drew Lismore girl Mikayla Hughes into the Australian Air Force Cadets three years ago, and she has had her fair share of it since then.

Yesterday saw another chapter in the 15-year-old's evolution into a pilot, with 30 minutes in the air in a Cessna 172, 1500 metres above the Lismore airfield.

It was part of a programundertaken by 326 Squadron in Lismore to give each of its 60 cadets the opportunity to enjoy an individual instructional flight.

The squadron chose the practical flying experience as its cadet initiated activity this year – made possible by Defence Department funding.

About 10 cadets gathered at the Northern Rivers Aero Club to take part in the exercise yesterday.

It was the fourth timeMikayla has been up in the air in her cadet career.

The corporal, who is in line for promotion to acting-sergeant, has a ‘natural talent for flying', according to thecivilian instructor piloting the plane yesterday.

She took the controls for some of the flight, and said it was ‘really easy'.

Even when the engine cuts out during steep climbs she says she has ‘no fear' up there.

“The planes are completely safe. They wouldn't send us up in them if they weren't,” she said.

Mikayla, an A-grade student at Lismore High, joined up to meet new friends and take part in the adventure weekends that cadets enjoy, which offer field training in bivouac skills, abseiling and navigation, among a range of other military skills.

The cadets even get some firearms training, with .22rifles.

But their targets are not shaped like humans, and the focus of training is not to fight wars, according to Graham Orams, a pilot officer with the AAFC.

Cadets was a great organisation for teenagers, he said.

“A study was done not so long ago to find the nation's best youth organisation in Australia,” Mr Orams said.

“The study determined that the best were the Australian Defence Force Cadets, which encompass Army, Air Force and Navy.

“It went further and determined that the best of the three cadet services was the Air Force Cadets,” he said.

Mikayla thinks it unlikely she will enter the Air Force, but her future looks certain to be in the skies.

Next step is training ingliders, then the long – and expensive – trudge towards a pilot's licence.



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