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April 15, 2010
FLGOFF Baz Bardoe
THE 30th instalment of Exercise
Executive Stretch, to show em-
ployers the benefits of having re-
servists in their organisations, has
been hosted by No. 21 (City of
More than 30 bosses from
organisations as diverse as Thales,
Bunnings, Suzlon Energy, and the
Victoria Police, as well as local gov-
ernment bodies, undertook activities
ranging from abseiling and water
survival to marksmanship, fire fight-
ing, leadership and problem solv-
ing.Divided into three teams named
after iconic Air Force leaders
(Williams, Dalton and Newton), the
participants were led by a tri-serv-
ice team of Navy, Army and Air
Force personnel during the exercise.
It provided a great opportunity for
the employers to experience first-
hand the invaluable skills that can
be gained in the military and trans-
ferred to the civilian workplace.
For many it was also a time to
push the envelope, undertaking new
challenges designed to increase self
esteem, personal courage and group
trust. Most participants undertook
the activities with enthusiasm, and a
few had to overcome personal fears
but the consensus was that it had
been a unique opportunity.
Suzlon Energy's resident dare-
devil Felicity Leach set the bar high
early on by taking up the challenge
to abseil facing downwards.
"The weekend was a wonderful
way to gain insight into how reserve
service can benefit groups and indi-
viduals," she said.
"It underlines the importance of
good planning and being able to
trust team members."
Adam Gordon from Korrumburra
Lime and Spreading said he freely
admitted to being afraid of heights.
"With the supportive and profes-
sional instruction I can now claim to
have abseiled twice," he said.
Taranjit Sawhney from Thales
also tackled the abseiling face down,
but it was clear from his reaction
that he had experienced the kind of
adrenalin rush only possible when
you push outside your comfort zone.
"I would recommend it to anyone,"
Mr Sawhney said. "I understand that
I can now be more mission focused
rather than task focused.
"I was impressed by the quiet
professionalism and leadership style
of the instructors; I had expected
something more regimented."
CO 21SQN SQNLDR Marcelle
Mitting said 21SQN had presented
a number of activities for employers
and potential employers of reserve
personnel during the exercise.
"These activities are designed
for them to experience some of the
challenges faced by their employees
during their military service," he
"A desired outcome is a greater
appreciation of the reserve mem-
ber's military education and the
skills they bring to the civilian
"Another desired effect is to
foster a favourable outlook towards
reserve employees in future.
"The comments made by par-
ticipants throughout the weekend
indicated that the activity was a suc-
cess," SQNLDR Mitting said. All eyes on
the prize in
to the limit at 21SQN
TWO pilot officers are part of the larg-
est group of future female pilots to at-
tend the Basic Flying Training School
(BFTS) at Tamworth, NSW, and the
five women also represent 25 per cent
of the total course number of 20 stu-
PLTOFFs Jacqueline Baird and
Emily Thorvaldsson started putting pre-
vious flying training to good use when
they recently took their first fledgling
steps into a career in the skies.
Along with ASLT Samantha Gilan,
LT Erin Pedrick and OCDT Stephanie
White, they began ADF38 basic pilots'
course on February 18.
PLTOFF Baird has been flying
Cesna-172s since she completed Year 11
"My first experience [flying] was
unreal," PLTOFF Baird said.
"To be in control of an aircraft was
something I never thought I could do."
Now, she has her eyes set on a bigger
aircraft; the C-17A, as well as gaining
operational experience outside Australia.
"I decided to enlist in the Air Force
as I wanted to try something exciting
that civilian aviation couldn't quite
match," she said.
"I chose Air Force specifically so I
could fly transport aircraft operation-
She is the first in her family to serve
in the ADF and pursue an aviation
She said the course was challenging,
but "we haven't started the hard work
PLTOFF Thorvaldsson has set herself
a wide choice of aircraft; the F/A-18, the
Super Hornet or the C-17.
Raised in Adelaide, she enlisted
through ADFA, completing a Bachelor
of Science degree. "I've always wanted
to fly," PLTOFF Thorvaldsson said.
"The first time I went up was awe-
some; that's why I chose to pursue fly-
ing as a career. The ADF is challenging
and offers me an exciting way to do it."
She said the course was going well
and that her course mates were a good
bunch of people.
Despite their previous experience,
they still have a long way to go before
they become military pilots.
CO BFTS WGCDR Mark Smith
said the course had only just completed
the six-week ground component of the
course. They began flying at the end of
"They are performing very well;
however, they're only at the beginning
of training and there is a long way to go
yet," WGCDR Smith said.
On average they should undertake
nine dual flights and go solo on their
"For some of them, this will be the
first time in their lives," he said.
He was pleased that so many had
been successful in gaining a place on the
"It is very encouraging to see such
a large percentage of females on the
course," WGCDR Smith said.
On graduation, the two officers will
post to 2 Flying Training School at
RAAF Base Pearce for more advanced
BFTS is responsible for all pilot basic
training for the ADF. The unit, together
with its contractor BAE Systems, pro-
vides basic flying training, a Flight
Screening Program and a Qualified
Flying Instructor (QFI) development
HIGH-FLYING CADETS: Current BFTS students OCDT Stephanie White,
LT Erin Pederick, ASLT Samantha Gilan, PLTOFF Emily Thorvaldsson and
PLTOFF Jacqueline Baird.
Photo: courtesy BFTS
ROPE WORK: Left, Taranjit
Sawhney from Thales (front) leads
the team of Executive Stretch
participants to build a bridge using
TESTING TIME: Above, exercise
participant Debra McCollum tries
her nerve abseiling.
Photos: SGT Dave Grant
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