ADF Gap Year program participants deployed to Air Force’s No 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU) this year travelled around Australia and gained exposure to maintenance operations for fast jets.
CAPTION: Gap Year personnel, from left, Aircraftman Jubal Tan, Aircraftman Jack Bridge, Aircraftwoman Layla Manser, Aircraftwoman Annalise Conibear, Aircraftman Jackson Pulbrook and Aircraftman Samuel Maharjan. Story by Flight Sergeant Josa Kohler. Photo by Sergeant Peter Borys.
The 12-month program trains personnel to deliver a capability. The unit aims to give Gap Year participants an insight into all things Air Force, not just in the technical world.
Aircraftwoman Annalise Conibear, a Gap Year member, was posted to 77 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown and deployed with 2OCU on exercise to RAAF Base Amberley.
“I’ve loved supporting 2OCU during Exercise Rogue Ambush 01/22 in a fast-paced challenging environment where I was able to implement my technical training into real life deployed maintenance operations,” Aircraftwoman Conibear said.
“I highly recommend the Gap Year to everyone who wants to challenge themselves, create memorable experiences, learn new skills, travel to places you’ve never been before and form close bond friendships.”
Aircraftman Jackson Pulbrook, another Gap Year member posted to 2OCU in 2022, also thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated his time with the squadron.
“Since being posted to 2OCU I have been given countless opportunities to gain experience and exposure to a wide variety of Air Force job roles,” Aircraftman Pulbrook said.
“From armament, avionics, and aircraft technicians in the Joint Strike Fighter Program, to fast jet pilots, air battle managers, and aviation warfare officers in their day-to-day jobs.”
These opportunities have taken Aircraftman Pulbrook to locations such as Mildura, Wagga Wagga, Darwin and Brisbane.
“2OCU has consistently challenged me to improve my skills and knowledge whilst helping me make a decision on which ADF career path I wish to pursue after my Gap Year,” he said.
Sergeant Murray Stabler of 2OCU Avionics said more than half of the unit’s flight line personnel were Gap Year participants.
“Considering the complexity and the intensity of flight line operations, and despite their relative inexperience, they have performed extremely well under a very high workload,” Sergeant Stabler said.
“This employment of Gap Year personnel at 2OCU demonstrates their value to the unit’s capability and also how they can be exposed to, and employed effectively in, high value maintenance operations,” he said.
During the upgrade to the airfield at Williamtown in 2022, 2OCU operated from RAAF Bases Darwin, Tindal and Amberley for up to 22 weeks.
On the unit’s return to Williamtown in mid-December, the Gap Year personnel took some well-earned leave.
“Some will return to 2OCU in the new year, four have been accepted as officers, and some will return to RAAF Base Wagga as they have been offered full time employment as a Technician and will pursue a technical trade,” Sergeant Stabler said.
“As a modern day unit we rely heavily on the Gap Year personnel and see great value in the Gap Year program, now and into the future.”