Born in Adelaide, Flight Lieutenant Matt Holecek grew up 40 minutes south in Morphett Vale becoming a butcher’s hand while completing his high school education.

With his eye on a career as a butcher or a bricklayer, Flight Lieutenant dipped his feet into aviation via Murray Bridge Gliding Club.

That set off a sequence of events, including a visit to the Edinburgh Air Show, which piqued an interest in becoming a pilot.

At 17, Flight Lieutenant Holecek joined Air Force completing a Bachelor of Technology in Aviation degree at the Australian Defence Force Academy before completing training at No. 2 Flying Training School.

Flight Lieutenant Holecek now sits at the controls of the RAAF F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle, NSW.

"As part of my studies I undertook battlefield tours in Papua New Guinea walking Kokoda and in Turkey visiting Gallipoli and the surrounding battle grounds,” Flight Lieutenant Holecek said.

"This was a really enjoyable part of my training, but nothing beats the feeling of being in charge of a fighter jet and as the Hornets reach their end of life, I look forward to my training in the United States to fly the newest aircraft in the RAAF inventory, the F-35A Lightning II."

Spare time for Flight Lieutenant Holecek is a little slower, but just as adventurous as he pilots his four-wheel drive around regional Australia on fishing, hiking and camping trips. Gardening and growing his own vegetables consumes the leftover time after parenting duties to his two-year old daughter.

"I miss my mates and the familiar surrounds of Morphett Vale since I was posted to Williamtown, via Tindal in the Northern Territory, but the life I have now of piloting the most advanced jet fighter in the world compensates somewhat," Flight Lieutenant Holecek said.

"While a lot of my F-35A training will be in a simulator because it is a single-seater aircraft, I look forward to taking my first flight in this unique aircraft.

"My goal is to become an instructor in the F-35As so this training opportunity [in the US] will expose me to the most modern training facilities and techniques as well.”

Flight Lieutenant Holecek will complete his F-35A Lightning II training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

With people being a strong focus of the Air Force Centenary, throughout 2020 and 2021 exceptional members who have contributed to the Air Force will be featured on www.airforce.gov.au/100 and Flight Lieutenant Holecek is a fine example of the thousands of people who make up our Air Force.

Planning is underway for the commemoration of the Royal Australian Air Force’s formation in March 1921 and further information may be obtained at www.airforce.gov.au/100

You can view Flight Lieutenant Holecek's story here.