After more than a decade of trying to find a permanent home, Shellharbour’s air cadets have landed a new base at the Illawarra Regional Airport.
The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, officially opened the $900,000 facility for the No. 338 Squadron of Australian Air Force Cadets on Saturday.
“This new building gives the Squadron the capacity to grow, with room to accommodate more cadets and staff in the years to come,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
No. 338 Squadron has 34 cadets aged between 13 and 20, along with five officers and instructors who lead them in a youth development program run by the Australian Air Force Cadets.
The new home, built by the Royal Australian Air Force, is located near the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS).
The purpose-built facility includes a parade ground, three classrooms, storage facilities, kitchen, showers, common room and car park.
The build wasn’t completely trouble-free – construction was halted in 2014 when asbestos was found during excavation.
“As a result of their close proximity [to HARS], No. 338 Squadron has enjoyed a close relationship with the society, allowing cadets to gain a greater appreciation of Australia’s aviation heritage and what careers the aviation industry has to offer them,” he said.
Air Chief Marshal Binskin, a former cadet of Camden-based No. 303 Squadron, said he was pleased to continue an association with Air Force Cadets.
“The time I spent in the Air Force Cadets fuelled my enthusiasm for flying and set me on the path to become a pilot - first in the Royal Australian Navy and later in the Royal Australian Air Force,” he said.
"Air Force Cadets offers young Australians an opportunity to develop their leadership qualities, self reliance, discipline and initiative.
“These characteristics provide a good foundation for those who choose to pursue a military career, but the knowledge and virtues instilled in the Air Force Cadets will hold them good stead no matter what career path they choose.”
Cadets are able to undertake three weeks per year full-time tertiary-level training, across a number of areas including leadership and decision-making, which qualifies them for a TAFE Certificate III in Business Management.