As Kirrily and I sat on the tarmac at the Air Force base watching the most recent cadets graduating from their promotion courses, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to experiencing a touch of emotion and nostalgia. As the cadets’ feet clipped the concrete in unison and the colour party marched past with their white gloves and their banner unfurled, it took me back decades to when I was on the other side parade ground.
The nostalgia was heightened by the presence of the reviewing officer, who had kindly invited us to attend. Gold braid on the peak of his cap and a chest full of medals were a testimony to a long life of service. We had once been roommates as young cadets. In fact, more than once we had shared barracks as aspiring young aviators with life’s runway still laid out ahead of us. Now, we shared a parade ground once more, our journeys nearly complete.
The Air Commodore had trod a path full of merit, rising through the ranks of the Royal Australian Air Force. For my part, I had zig-zagged through the civilian route to join the airlines. And yet, our passion for flight remained a shared experience after many years. Now, more than forty years later we have circled back, this time as instructors, to fly with the next generation as they begin their journey.
As my friend stood at the dais and spoke warmly to the cadets, I considered our journeys with equal warmth. I also considered how a friendship between two kids sharing a barracks and forged through a common interest, had endured so long. For this and more, I am indebted to the Australian Air Force Cadets. As I surveyed their young faces and crisp uniforms, I pondered the journey that lay ahead for their ranks with a true sense of joy and even a little envy.
Enjoy the journey.