Home' Air Force News : June 21st 2012 Contents 2
June 21, 2012
FLTLT Dave Cusworth
SQNLDR Jesse Laroche is charting a
new course as the first Australian pilot
to fly the P-8A Poseidon, the next gen-
eration Maritime Patrol and Response
Aircraft scheduled to replace the Orion.
The 10SQN C Flight Commander
was an observer on the aircraft during
Tamex, a two-week anti-submarine
warfare exercise held off the Western
Australian coast from June 5 to 15,
when he was asked to take the controls
during Poseidon's first visit to Australia.
"I didn't realise I was to be the first
RAAF pilot to fly the P-8A until I was on
board," SQNLDR Laroche said.
"It's a fantastic platform, very mod-
ern obviously, and a great level of auto-
mation throughout the aircraft.
"In terms of pure flying I found it
very smooth and easy to fly. It handled
well and the level of spatial awareness
you get is another step up from what
we've seen before."
Two US Navy P-8A Poseidons and
a P-3C joined a 92WG AP-3C for the
exercise, held out of RAAF Base Pearce,
along with RAN Seahawks from HMAS
Stirling on exercise with HMAS Collins.
RAAF Orions fly west four times a
year for Tamex, which on this occasion
encountered the most intense storm to
strike Perth in 15 years.
Defence plans to acquire the
Poseidon in 2017-18 and the Orions
are scheduled to be withdrawn from
service in 2019.
Meanwhile, SQNLDR Laroche
expects to work closely with USN coun-
terparts as the Air Force collaborates on
"We relish the opportunity to
exchange in the US," he said.
"And obviously, the guys who
are lucky enough to get an exchange
opportunity will make the most of that."
More on Tamex 12-2 and the P-8A Poseidon
project in the next edition.
SGT Andrew Hetherington
A HORNET instructor pilot has been
recognised for his tireless work men-
toring junior Air Force aircrew while
also flying a 56-year-old jet fighter
and running a youth charity.
SQNLDR Paul Simmons, of 2
Operational Conversion Unit, was
presented with the Oswald Watt
Gold Medal Award by Marj Davis,
president of the Royal Federation of
Aero Clubs Australia, at the 2012 Air
Force Awards night at RAAF Base
Amberley on May 31.
The award is presented to
Australians who display the most
brilliant performance in the air or the
most notable contribution to aviation
by an Australian or in Australia. It was
first presented in 1921 and past recipi-
ents include Sir Charles Kingsford
Smith, Bert Hinkler and Sir Reginald
It was last awarded in 1999 to
astronaut Andrew Thomas.
SQNLDR Simmons, known as
Simmo to his friends and colleagues,
said he grew up reading about and
idolising many of the previous award
"To receive this award is hard to
comprehend; I am humbled and hon-
oured," he said.
"I don't feel I'm anywhere near
being in the same category as those leg-
ends, however, I am humbled to accept
it and hope that I can help further avia-
tion in Australia in some small way."
SQNLDR Simmons divides his
time working as a Hornet instruc-
tor pilot and displaying the RAAF
CA-27 Sabre at the Temora Aviation
"I was selected by Air Force to fly
it due to my background in low-level
jet aerobatics and I've flown the Sabre
at Temora since 2009," he said. "It's
an honour to fly it and see the vet-
erans, their families and young peo-
ple come alive when they see it in its
His real passion is operating
his charity LIFT, which stands for
Learning, Inspiration, Friendship and
"The charity began in 2007 and
the Air Force has been a fantastic sup-
port by allowing me to work part-time
while pursuing its development.
"Along with Chris Teale, a former
Hornet pilot, we set about using the
magic of flight to help 'at risk' youth
get their lives back on track.
"In 2009, LIFT received official
registered charity status and we put
a yearly average of 75 young people
and their mentors though our educa-
tional flying-based programs."
LIFT allows SQNLDR Simmons
to transfer his flying knowledge
and life experience to young people
between the ages of 12 and 25 who
have not had a fortunate start to life,
and to help the amazing organisations
working to supporting them.
"We don't label kids, but the defi-
nition 'at risk' means to us young peo-
ple who are at risk of not being able
to achieve minimum education out-
comes, juvenile detention, being inca-
pable of entering the workforce effec-
tively or becoming welfare dependant.
"Our programs are designed to
enhance a youth's ability to under-
stand risk, make effective decisions,
improve self-image and belief in their
individual worth and future potential."
For more information on the charity LIFT and
to make a donation, visit www.lift.org.au/
For more information on the Oswald Watt
Gold Medal Award, including how to nomi-
nate, visit members.ozemail.com.au/~rfaca_
RAAF FIRST: SQNLDR Jesse
Laroche, who flew the P-8A
Poseidon during Tamex.
Photo: AB Alan Lancaster
MAN OF MANY TALENTS: SQNLDR Paul Simmons at the controls of a restored
former RAAF Sabre alongside a 75SQN Hornet at Temora; right, SQNLDR Simmons
displaying his certificate and Watt Gold Medal with CAF AIRMSHL Geoff Brown and
Marj Davis, the president of the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia, at the
Air Force awards night.
Photos: LAC Mark Friend and LACW Kylie Gibso
For a most notable contribution to Aviation by an
Australian for his unique combination of professional
mastery as an operational fighter pilot, dedication to
the mentoring and instruction of junior aircrew, com-
mitment to the preservation of aviation heritage as the
Australian CA-27 Sabre pilot and establishment of the
LIFT youth charity.
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