The roar of CF-18 jet engines pulsed through the air above the Nanaimo Airport Saturday.
For Nanaimo air cadet William Groundwater, who watched from the ground and later got a rundown of the aircraft from the pilot, it was an exciting experience.
“It was outstanding. It was breathtaking,” Groundwater said. “Fighter jets just really intrigue me … so pretty much everything is like going to a rock concert for me, it’s pretty amazing.”
The jet was brought in under the careful guidance of Major Aaron Macluskie, a graduate of the Nanaimo Air Cadet Squadron, who currently serves as the weapons and training officer for the 410 Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Macluskie, who was undergoing regular scheduled training on Vancouver Island, received permission to divert to Nanaimo Airport and give the cadets a first-hand look at the fighter to celebrate the Nanaimo air cadet’s 70th anniversary.
“It’s a tremendous honour and it is extremely exciting for me,” said Macluskie, about the opportunity to bring the plane to Nanaimo.
Macluskie said he remembers what it was like when he was a cadet and curious about the workings of the airplane and now it’s fun to be on the other side and answer questions about the CF-18.
One of the best pieces of advice he can give to the youth is to keep working hard and learning the skills taught in cadets, he said.
“Cadets sets you up really well for anything you want to do afterwards. There’s the discipline, the hard work, you have to be committed, all of those skills are transferred directly to flying CF-18s, going to school or pursuing other options,” said Macluskie
Groundwater said it’s great to have a former cadet share his experiences with the air squadron.
“It really boosts my morale – you know this guy has done it, and I can do it as well if I put my effort into it,” he said.
Ginny Church, a level 3 training officer for the Royal Canadian Air Cadets 205 Nanaimo, said she’s thrilled to be part of the air cadets.
Church started as a cadet in the mid-1970s and now helps instruct youth. She said the air cadets isn’t a recruiting tool for the Armed Forces, but if a cadet chooses that career path, the skills they learn are a good stepping stone.
The air cadet’s end of year ceremony was held Sunday at the airport, with Macluskie participating as the reviewing officer.
The CF-188, popularly known as the CF-18, is the Canadian Forces front-line fighter jet, according to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces website, www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca.
It can engage both air and ground targets and is equipped with a Sniper Advanced Targeting pod, which includes an infra-red camera and video camera allowing the pilot to see targets at night, in all weather conditions and from great distances.
The fighter’s twin engines can produce enough thrust to lift 24 full-sized pickup trucks off the ground.