Bundaberg’s Riley Kroning is soaring after being the first Australian Air League Cadet in the country to earn his student pilot glider epaulettes.
Seated in the cockpit of a glider for his first instructional flight last August, Riley said he no idea that 12 months later he would achieve something no other Australian Air League Cadet had, earning the respected student pilot epaulettes for gliding.
“It’s an amazing feeling and I'm very humble and happy,” Riley said.
“It’s unbelievable, they said I am the first in Australia.”
The Bundaberg State High School student said he joined the Australian Air League about four years ago, and he recommended other teenagers give it ago.
Now qualified to fly solo in a glider, Riley said he would have to wait until he turned 15 on Christmas Day when he was legally old enough to take to the sky on his own.
“I initially had three or four flights with the Air League before I started my instructional flights and I really enjoyed it,” Riley said.
“I would like to say thank you to the gliding club for giving me this experience.”
Bundaberg Air League Australia Acting Officer Commanding Di Ballard said Riley was the first Air League Australia cadet to dedicate hours of logbook gliding to secure the student pilot epaulettes.
“There have been 87 sets if epaulettes given out for powered flights across Australia, but this is the first for gliding and we have done it here in Bundaberg,” she said.
“Riley really did just take off with gliding, he is such an introvert until you get him in that glider, then he just sparks up.”
She said the whole squadron was proud of Riley’s achievements in gaining the student pilot glider epaulettes, and she thanked the Bundaberg Gliding Club for their assistance in making it a possibility.
“We have our annual camp at the Bundaberg Gliding Club and it really is the best set up – it’s a great facility out there,” Di said.
“The guys at the gliding club are really unreal and were fantastic with Riley.”
Bundaberg Gliding Club flying instructor Grant Davies said the members were more than happy to take the cadets under their wing and show them the ropes of gliding.
“We really enjoy doing the weekends for the cadets and seeing the kids come out all chatty and ready to go up gliding,” Grant said.
“It’s pretty cool for us too.”
Alan Ing is one of Bundaberg Gliding Club’s original members and as a current instructor, he said it was always a pleasure to take the next generation of gliders up into the sky to help them on their way.
“We started the concept of the club in 1964, and by 1965 it was operational,” he said.
“All up I have just over 4500 hours, with well in excess of 20,000 take offs and landings, and it’s great to pass this knowledge on.
“I love the air, and I have taken Riley up and he is a good kid and pilot, a stable introvert, and he has a niche for gliding.”