April 9, 2020
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My name is Corporal
[? Ben Lewis. ?] I’m an aircraft structural
fitter at 76th Squadron here at Williamtown. A structural fitter looks after
the main components of the aircraft, the main
assemblies and the wings, the flaps, the body of
the aircraft. Yeah, it’s good. I quite enjoy it. Pretty much what it means is
we’re a [INAUDIBLE] working for aircrafts. There’s things that get here. There’s corrosion. There’s mechanics that put
holes in it and stuff. So essentially, we just redesign
bits and pieces to go into it with engineering
advice or through the publications for the particular aircraft you work on. It comes up with a whole range
of repairs that you can do. And you just implement one of
the repairs that are required for that area. We get the guys come in from one
RTU, which is one recruit training unit. They come in. Some have had previous
experience as a metalworker or a boilermaker. Others just comes straight
from school or have had actually no trade background
at all. And we mould them into workable
ADF members as a aircraft structural fitters. My dad, actually, was dead
against it because he was a warrant officer before, years
ago, and he thought it was still the same system it
used to be where your qualifications weren’t
recognised, initially. But once he found out
it was, he was rapt. And yeah, all my friends
are really supportive. Out in the civy world, you’ve
got some people that, because you’re training or apprentice,
you are the bottom of the food chain, basically, and
really don’t care. But here, we are
here to learn. And they actually do teach
us what we need to know. We’ve found here that
there’s no such thing as a silly question. You’re only silly for
not asking. it. I’ve been all around Australia
with the [? Hornets ?] and in the Air Force. Last went out over to Thailand,
Malaysia, and this last one is Singapore,
there’s three overseas trips I’ve done. The other guys, they can go
anywhere from Las Vegas– some friends of mine
just came back from Alaska, doing that trip. So yeah, there’s no end to,
really, where you can end up. But it’s been good. It’s all free. Normally it’s hotel
accommodation for us, too, so yeah, we’re not complaining. Being a metalworker, we start
off, we go through rookies, 10 weeks of rookies, go to
[? wogger ?], and do pretty much a one year apprenticeship
at [? Wagga, ?] and then get posted out to
a squadron after that. I knew nothing about repairing, anything to do with metal. I’m off a farm, so a bit
of a country boy. I did aero skills mechanical out
of TAFE as a TVET course during school. So I had a basic understanding
of aircraft, and how you repair them and look
after them. I’ve always been very hands on
and quite good with my hands. And I’ve found, in the aircraft
world, you have to be quite precise and
very meticulous. So I want to be the best
tradesman I can be and the best tradesman out there. So I decided, the aircraft
stream, and therefore, the Air Force. There’s a lot of theory when you
start the course, like all the different trades, your do
all your math, your physics, which I really struggled with. I’m not a big math person. But then you’d come out to the
aircraft structures hanger and, yeah, you get into the
practical side of it, and that’s good. It’s tough, but it’s fun
at the same time. There’s a set structure. From the word, go, you’ve always
got something else, another course you can do. And it will aid either your
career, promotion-wise, or to just further you skills. Here’s an interesting job. I’ve got to, in the past, I’ve
been going on Hornets. Now onto the Hawks. It’s my second airframe. It’s a lot better than working
in the mines and things like that, it’s just boring,
repetitive work. [? But ?] this, you can do a
repair and find it flying later on in the afternoon. It’s not bad. The nuts and bolts of it
is, you’re actually working on an aircraft. You’re working with
people’s lives.

Tony wyaad