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July 22, 2010
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ABCIS Melanie Schinkel
FLYING fast jets was an opportunity
too good to resist for this Navy pilot,
who recently duxed the F/A-18 opera-
tional conversion (OPCON) course.
LEUT Todd Woodford, 23, was
one of six pilots to graduate from 2
Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU)
at RAAF Base Williamtown on July
5, and is preparing for his move to
RAAF Base Tindal, where he will fly
He said he joined Navy in 2004
because he intended to fly helicop-
ters, but was offered the chance to
u ndergo fast-jet training with Air
Force when he earned his wings in
"I was asked if I wanted to do the
training and the opportunity seemed
too good to refuse," LEUT Woodford
"I have been posted to 75SQN and
have been told I have to transfer to
Air Force, although I'm in no hurry
because being a Navy F/A-18 pilot is
"I would be happy to stay in the
Navy but soon I will be a Flight
Lieutenant instead of a Lieutenant."
His training to become a fast-jet
pilot started with a year flying Hawk
lead-in fighters before the F/A-18
OPCON course in January this year.
The OPCON course was six
months' training in all the F/A-18's
flying roles, including day and night
flying, air-to-air and air-to-surface
attacks, in addition to about 140 syl-
labus events, 40 hours in the simula-
tor and 80 hours of dog-fighting time.
12-hour days and sometimes two
missions a day," LEUT Woodford
said.Comparing the Hawk to the F/A-
18, he said, "Obviously, the F/A-18 is
a lot bigger and it can go a lot further,
higher and faster.
"It has so many more systems and
'toys' to play with, so you have to get
used to all the extra systems because
you can do so much more with it.
"At the end of the course we were
no longer students and given our
squadron patches," he said.
"The feeling of relief and excite-
ment at the end of three-and-a-half
years of intensive flying training was
indescribable and made all the hard
LEUT Woodford was awarded an
academic proficiency award and dux
of the 2OCU OPCON course.
From helos to Hornets
SWITCHING CODES: F/A-18 operational conversion course dux, LEUT Todd Woodford, started his military
aviation career training to fly Navy helicopters, but was offered the opportunity to fly fixed-wing fast jets and
hasn't looked back since.
Photo: LAC Craig Barrett
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