Daydreaming isn’t uncommon for primary school students – but for one aspiring Royal Australian Navy pilot, it certainly paid off.

Growing up close to RAAF Base Amberley, Sub Lieutenant Ian Alder watched aircraft flying in and out of the area.

“I went to a primary school in Amberley and went past the lined-up Caribous on my way to and from school,” Sub Lieutenant Alder said.

“During lessons, I would watch the F-111s flying around out the window.

“And the dream of becoming a pilot took hold even more after I had the opportunity to try flying – from remote- controlled planes to powered aircraft and sailplanes.”

Sub Lieutenant Alder was among 10 pilot trainees who, on June 17, graduated from the Navy’s New Entry Officers Course (NEOC) 64 at the Naval College at HMAS Creswell at Jervis Bay, New South Wales.

The graduation parade was hosted on Creswell’s quarterdeck and attended by 173 trainees who marked the culmination of the five-month residential training program.

The course teaches trainees about the skills and attitudes necessary to become effective leaders, including communication techniques, basic mariner skills, sea survivability, weapons handling and physical training.

Governor-General General (retd) David Hurley was the reviewing officer for the graduation parade, accompanied by Acting Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Chris Smith.

Sub Lieutenant Alder, who also spent time in the ADF Cadets program, said the NEOC was both challenging and rewarding.

“The most challenging part of the course would probably be the field exercises, especially Exercises Sunda Strait and Matapan, which were a practical test of our leadership skills,” the 26-year-old said.

“But the most challenging parts have also ended up being some of the more rewarding and enjoyable, and I especially enjoyed the field exercises more than I expected.

“The 0450 ‘wakey-wakey’ for early morning activities was also challenging some days.”

Sub Lieutenant Alder will now post to HMAS Albatross at Nowra to prepare for a 24-week Pilot Basic Course at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria.

He is also expected to deploy as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist, the ADF’s contribution to a whole-of-government response to the COVID pandemic.