Since starting his career as an engine fitter at RAAF Base Point Cook circa 1989, Geelong Squadron Leader Mark Lees is now the senior engineering officer in the same hangar as his first posting.
CAPTION: Squadron Leader Mark Lees works on a CT4A as the 100 Squadron senior engineering officer at RAAF Base Point Cook in 2022. Story by Leading Aircraftwoman Casey-Lee Rebellato. Photo by David Jones.
After joining the Air Force in 1988 and completing his training at RAAF School of Technical Training, Squadron Leader Lees was posted to 1 Flying Training School (1FTS), where he maintained CT4A aircraft until the school’s closure in 1993.
When reflecting on his many career highlights, Squadron Leader Lees remembers his initial posting to the training school as a pivotal point.
“My posting at 1FTS allowed me to expand my knowledge of general aviation aircraft types, while I continued my external flying passion and obtained my commercial pilot licence here in Melbourne,” he said.
Squadron Leader Lees’ career continued to expand in a variety of roles, providing valuable experiences with subsequent postings including 76 and 77 Squadrons, and 2 Operational Conversion Unit.
“Working as the Air Combat Group simulation manager for the F/A-18, F-111 and Hawk 127 Lead-in Fighter aircraft was an amazing insight into the world of contracts, working alongside very talented contracted support staff at RAAF Bases Williamtown, Amberley and Pearce,” he said.
“The opportunity to attend the national test pilot school operational test and evaluation [OT&E] short course, and fly a number of aircraft while studying and learning basic flight-test principles, concepts and processes of OT&E was an absolute highlight for me.”
Squadron Leader Lees was a key player in the lead up to and stand up of 100 Squadron in 2021, and will complete his current posting as 100 Squadron senior engineering officer at the end of 2023. He will then post to Headquarters Air Force Training Group.
“Being selected as the 100 Squadron SENGO [senior engineering officer] was humbling and daunting at the same time,” Squadron Leader Lees said.
“The thought of maintaining oversight of 20 very distinctly different warbird aircraft was, and continues to be, a challenge every day.”
“The memories were still very clear as I returned full circle to the original 1FTS hangars that I had left some 30 years prior, and it was a great opportunity to setup a warbird maintenance facility that our aircraft engineers and public would be proud of and admire.”
Squadron Leader Lees describes the small team at 100 Squadron as a close family that works tirelessly to support the large and diverse airworthy heritage fleet at both RAAF Base Point Cook and Temora.
CAPTION: Squadron Leader Mark Lees, then Leading Aircraftman, works on a CT4A at RAAF Base Point Cook in 1992.