Head in the clouds

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Preethika Ganiger’s dreams are taking off, literally, with the Australian Air League

Australian Air League.Indian Link

As a young child, Preethika Ganiger often dreamt about flying.

As in, flying her own planes.

Her mum Archna could have told her she had her head in the clouds, but instead decided to help her realise her dreams.

Today, aged 11, this Year Six student of Brighton Primary School looks like she will soon have her dreams come true.

“I’ve always wanted to fly like a professional Aerobatic Pilot so I joined Royal Flying Doctors Service Australia and Australian Air League’s Junior squadron in 2012,” Preethika tells Indian Link.

The Australian Air League, for kids 8-18, not only encourages interest in the aviation industry as a career or as a hobby, but also provides them education, opportunity and support.

“The Australian Air League has an excellent reputation for producing high quality pilots, some of who are now flying with Australia’s major airlines and charter companies,” says Sqn Lt. Chris Thompson, Acting Officer Commanding Port Adelaide and SA Wing Education Officer.

The League, also known as the primary school of aviation, has been promoting the industry to young Australians for some 80 years now. It offers air activities in all states either through affiliations with commercial flying schools that offer competitively priced flying or through the air activities centre at Camden Airport in NSW. They are known for their leadership training and discipline. Successful members can qualify to become Non Commissioned Officers. The organisation is entirely self-funded and is staffed by volunteers who give their time generously to achieve its goals.

The League is also involved in pre drills for Field Competitions and Parades, First Aid courses, Electronics and Physics courses, Public speaking, Leadership, Astronomy, Building Model Aircraft and Model Flying.

Australian Air League.Indian Link

“Preethika has been very passionate about flying and joined Australian Air League at the age of eight as a cadet,” says Archna Ganiger. “She is now working towards becoming a Non-Commissioned Officer. These are cadets who have shown aptitude for leadership and are selected on their ability to train and assist others as well as being a good reflection of the Australian Air League and its principles.”

Preethika says her favourite activity is gliding and power aircraft flying. “Gliders are awesome! They are supported by the dynamic reaction of air against their lifting surfaces. They don’t depend on engines. They are very quiet. I feel like a bird when I’m up in one! Touching and seeing the clouds rush past me is an incredible experience. It’s a great experience for a primary school student!”

Preethika has also achieved Certificate 3 in electronics through the League.

And of course the young pilot-in-the-making also believes in giving back to the squadron that is helping her achieve her dreams. Recently, as a part of the leadership program, Preethika brought a touch of India to the Australian Air League Port Adelaide squadron. She took full responsibility in organising the event to help the members celebrate the culture of India. She also performed a Bharatnatyam dance number watched on by her guru, in front of the entire squadron. Later, some delicious Indian food followed.

At a time when the Indian Air Force has just announced that it will induct women pilots into its fighter stream (having already allowed them to fly transport aircraft and helicopters), we can only wish many more young women like Preethika have their flying dreams fulfilled.