On September 11, 2015, I was fortunate enough to be invited to witness the graduation flight of four new CT-155 Hawk pilots, at 15 Wing Moose Jaw. Course 1405S saw four student pilots, all members of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), graduate their Phase III Transition Course and receive their military flying wings. Completion of Phase III was also significant, as it was the first step towards becoming fighter pilots in the RSAF.
The RSAF joined the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program in February of 2000, making Singapore the first, non-NATO country to join the training program. RSAF students would come to 15 Wing Moose Jaw, from their Basic Wings Course in Australia, to learn to fly fast jets, before embarking on their Fighter Lead-In Training in Cold Lake. Upon graduating, the new pilots would move on to platforms like the F-15SG Strike Eagle or the F-16C Fighting Falcon.
The Phase III Transition Course consists of 69.8 hours of instructional flying, along with ground school and simulator training on the BAE Systems CT-155 Hawk. Flying instruction includes advanced handling, aerobatics, and low level flying, as well as pattern work and cross-country navigation trips.
As with any graduation, having family there to witness such a milestone event, is always welcome. In this case, the families of all four students, traveled close to 30 hours, from Singapore, to Canada, in order to attend. However, the students and their families would continue their stay and take a well earned vacation to sight see, before the students had to report to Cold Lake.
While in Moose Jaw, the families were treated to a tour of the training facilities at 15 Wing. Tours included a look at the Hawk simulators, as well as hangar tours, before returning to witness the brief for the days flight.
It was at this time, that I checked in at the offices of Dragon Flight, the 15 Wing Hawk training flight. The brief covered everything from weather conditions to every maneuver that would be conducted. Being a graduation flight, there would be two fly pasts performed, all taking place while the families observed from the control tower.
With the briefing completed, the students and instructors suited up in their flying gear and gathered in the Hawk Ops section, where the aircraft would be signed out. After a few photos, the pilots headed out for the flight line and started engines on the four Hawks, before taxiing to the runway for a formation take off.
After an hour, the four Hawks appeared on the horizon, as they made their way over 15 Wing. After two fly pasts, and a series of touch and go approaches, the Hawks recovered and taxied to the base of the control tower, where proud family members gathered to take photos of the jets, before they parked. After safely shutting down the aircraft, graduation certificates were handed out by the Commandant of 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (2 CFFTS), LCol David Smith. After a final round of photos on the tarmac, it was time for the Wings Presentation.
Held in the atrium of the Col. O.B. Philip Complex, the students of Course 1405S received their pilot wings. The first part of their journey was over. They had earned the right to be called military aviators. With words of encouragement from 15 Wing Commander, Colonel Alex Day, the students take that next step and will travel to Cold Lake, where they learn to be fighter pilots.
With that, I would like to congratulate the students from Course 1405S, on their graduation. Capt. Gary Liang Jun Ho, Capt. Jamie Lee Wen Jie, LTA. Larry Khoo Yong Yi, LTA. Ong Zhengkai
I have to say that this experience was something I will never forget. It was fantastic to see the smiles of the students, instructors and families, as they all shared in this event. I would like to thank the following people for giving me the opportunity to attend the graduation of Course 1405S.
Capt. Blake McNaughton, Capt. Gary Liang Jun Ho, Capt. Jamie Lee Wen Jie, LTA. Larry Khoo Yong Yi, LTA. Ong Zhengkai, Maj. Adrian "Alien" Liew. Members of 15 Wing, including Col. Alex Day, CWO Michel Blain, 2 CFFTS Commandant, LCol. David Smith, and the staff and students of Dragon Flight. Thank you all for the chance to visit and thank you for being such gracious hosts.
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