Young aviators aspire to reach the stars

13 May 2024

Junior aviators from across Air Force gathered at the National Convention Centre in Canberra for the inaugural Clear to Launch Symposium as part of this year’s Air and Space Power Conference.

Held on May 7 as a precursor to the conference, the symposium provided young, aspiring aviators and officers with presentations and discussions to develop and connect their ideas.

Four unique sessions were delivered to the cohort, including ‘Wicked Airmindedness’, a writers ignition workshop and ‘Big Ideas: Research and Innovation Futures Network’.

Another session involved senior enlisted leaders from across the globe, led by Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOFF-AF) Ralph Clifton, conducting a ‘Pitchfest’, receiving presentations on innovative ideas from three junior members.

Leading Aircraftman Henry Lam provided a presentation titled ‘Speak Up’, stating that leaders are only as good as their ability to communicate effectively. He pitched the idea of ‘effective communication training’ for all ranks to the Senior Enlisted Leadership Team (SELT).

Leading Aircraftman Lachlan Crossley showcased ‘USBValve’, an inexpensive cyber capability designed to detect malware and other malicious cyber intrusions.

And Aircraftman Louis Lamont provided the forum with a brief on additive manufacturing for air and space power in Defence, a design and 3D-printing process that only uses necessary raw materials in constructing objects layer by layer.

WOFF-AF Clifton opened Pitchfest by recounting words of advice he had given to another junior aviator: “Just say yes”.

“We are very passionate about the development of our junior aviators. You are the leaders of tomorrow,” he said.

Chief Master Sergeant Randy Kwiatkowski, Command Chief of US Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa, echoed WOFF-AF’s comments during the SELT panel.

“You are the most capable we have ever seen. We can sleep well at night knowing you will lead us through any future challenges,” he said.

As the symposium neared its conclusion, Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman addressed attendees, speaking on the importance of culture.

“Communication must have the ability to penetrate all parts of the Air Force at all times. We need to have a conversation about culture at all levels of the organisation,” he said.

Air Marshal Chipman also took questions from the audience, speaking about innovation, strategy and safety. When asked what to do when members of the symposium get back to their unit, he reiterated the importance of good leadership.

“Our organisation needs good leadership to thrive. I want you to go back and exercise that good leadership,” he said.



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