The man who oversaw the RAAF’s transition from training pilots on the ageing CT-4B Airtrainer to the modern Pilatus PC-21 has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
Squadron Leader Scott van Ginkel, currently Standards Flight Commander at No. 1 Flying Training School, RAAF Base East Sale, became one of 1,190 Australians recognised as part of the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Defence said he played a critical role in the implementation of Project AIR 5428, the name for the plan to revolutionise the way pilots are developed by integrating the training among RAAF, RAN and Australian Army pilots.
“It is very humbling to be appreciated for the job you do,” SQNLDR van Ginkel said.
“The introduction of the new Pilot Training System has been a challenging task that has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way pilots are trained in the Australian Defence Force.
“In some ways I feel like I am accepting this award on behalf of all those who have been involved with the development and implementation of the Pilot Training System.
“Receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia for doing something I enjoy has come as a surprise and it is still sinking in.
“When you enjoy what you do and can see the purpose in it, it doesn’t feel like a job.”
SQNLDR van Ginkel joined the RAAF in January 1995 from Geelong.
“I have been fortunate to see a lot of Australia and the world throughout my career, particularly flying the C-130J and then again with the introduction of the Pilot Training System,” he said.
“There are so many highlights, it is hard to narrow it down.
“The thrill for flying started when I was young, I had wanted to be a pilot ever since I first travelled on an aircraft as a kid.”
Before Project AIR 5428, flight screening and basic flying training was undertaken by the ADF Basic Flying Training School (BFTS) at Tamworth, NSW.
Operated by BAE Systems Australia with a mix of Defence Force and civilian staff, at BFTS pilots from all three services trained on the CT-4B Airtrainer.
On completion of their basic flying training, RAAF and RAN pilots then moved on to 2FTS at Pearce for advanced flying training on the Pilatus PC-9/A, while Army students complete their training at the School of Army Aviation in Oakey, Queensland.
Under AIR 5428, BFTS, flight screening and basic flying training for all three services moved from Tamworth to East Sale, with pilots now flying the PC-21.
The PC-21, designed to prepare recruits for fifth-generation aircraft such as the F-35, has a pressurised cockpit, air conditioning, anti-G system, on-board oxygen generator and can fly at low-level speeds over 320 knots.