Graduates take to skies

Department of Defence

The ADF welcomed its latest aviators to the skies following their graduation from 723 Squadron – Joint Helicopter School on September 29.

The second cohort to graduate from the school this year included Navy and Army pilots and aviation warfare officers.

Lieutenant Michael Oliver and Sub Lieutenant Connor Dickie were awarded as duxes for Navy pilot and aviation warfare officer course respectively, while Army Lieutenant Theo Rayfield was awarded dux for Army pilot course.

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Gregory Bilton was both reviewing officer and proud father, with his son Nicholas receiving his wings during the ceremony.

Lieutenant General Bilton encouraged the graduates to remain resilient and driven in the next step of their respective operational training.

“Today you are awarded your wings. Wear them with pride, you have earned them,” he said.

“This is an exciting time to develop your expertise in your allocated combat system where you will soon find yourself contributing to Defence outcomes in operational scenarios.

“Military aviation is an unforgiving environment and requires resilience, determination and commitment to excellence, underpinned by the resolute safety culture and a lot of humility.

“You have demonstrated these qualities in your training to date, and you will need to commit to the same in the future. The consequence and responsibilities are only greater from here on.”

Navy aviators will begin training on the MH-60R at 725 Squadron while Army trainees progress to Army’s attack, tactical-lift and heavy-lift helicopters.

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