Chop­per to the top of class

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

PORT Dou­glas par­ents Cheryl and Gor­don Well­ham have their heads in the clouds af­ter son Tim was cho­sen for elite Black Hawk heli­copter train­ing.

The Well­hams watched Tim grad­u­ate re­cently as one of only eight De­fence pi­lots to be awarded their Army Avi­a­tion Corp wings fol­low­ing two years of rig­or­ous train­ing and he was one of only four grad­u­ates cho­sen to learn the ropes of the one of the world’s most ad­vanced bat­tle­field he­li­copters.

Tim’s army ca­reer be­gan with his grad­u­a­tion as an army of­fi­cer from the De­fence Force Academy and then RMC Dun­troon in Can­berra.

He pur­sued fly­ing pri­vately and gained his pri­vate pi­lot li­cence and then an air­line trans­port pi­lot li­cence be­fore his com­mand­ing of­fi­cer per­suaded him to pur­sue army avi­a­tion while on his sec­ond tour of duty in East Ti­mor as a lo­gis­tics of­fi­cer.

Black Hawks are used for the tac­ti­cal trans­port of in­fantry sol­diers, search and res­cue, med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion, dis­as­ter re­lief and ex­ter­nal car­riage of heavy equip­ment in­clud­ing ar­tillery how­itzers and light ve­hi­cles.

About 4000 ap­pli­cants per year ap­ply for mil­i­tary avi­a­tion, and around 300 are se­lected for prac­ti­cal flight test­ing and gen­eral ap­ti­tude screen­ing.

Tim was one of 30 se­lected for Army heli­copter train­ing and joined a course of seven other trainees at the Army Heli­copter School at Oakey, near Toowoomba, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of fa­ther Gor­don who re­tired as a cap­tain af­ter 30 years in the Navy and the fam­ily’s con­nec­tion to the De­fence Forces stretch­ing back five gen­er­a­tions.

Mum Cheryl said it was a proud moment which high­lighted the re­wards for per­sis­tence.

‘‘I have fond mem­o­ries of watch­ing him learn to ride a push bike and, not so fond mem­o­ries, of teach­ing him to re­verse park - I never thought he would be do­ing what he is do­ing now,’’ she said.

‘‘ But there is cer­tainly en­cour­age­ment to ev­ery­one who has a child with a dream.’’

PROUD MOMENT: Gor­don and Cheryl Well­ham with son Tim

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