FROM surviving an unexploded bomb dropped by a German war plane directly onto his childhood home in England, to learning how to fly a Spitfire, on the sly, in Korea, some of the biggest moments in Norm Minton’s life have involved aircraft.
So it’s no surprise, then, that Mr Minton, 82, should have a lifelong interest in aviation.
It’s an interest he now nurtures in the next generation in his role as the officer commanding the Hunter wing of the Australian Air League.
The Hunter wing includes the Rathmines/Toronto boys squadron.
“The boys are taught discipline, they get to compete, they visit places like Fighter World and the RAAF base [at Williamtown], they go on recreation camps, as well as swimming and athletics carnivals,” Mr Minton, who worked as a theatre nurse for the RAF in the United Kingdom, said.
“We also have our own aircraft in Sydney, and once they’re old enough, we teach the boys to fly in that aircraft.”
Air League has become known as the primary school of aviation. It caters for boys (there are separate squadrons for girls) aged eight to 18.
There are also similarities between Air League and Scouts.
In Air League, boys get to rise through the ranks as they grow older and pass exams, and they can earn subject badges in things such as first aid, space flight, physics, astronomy and electronics.
For many boys and girls, Air League proves to be the springboard into careers.
“Since 1987, I have had three of my former cadets become fighter pilot trainers at Williamtown, four are flying light aircraft in the Army, six former cadets are flying helicopters in the Navy, and four are now employed by Qantas as commercial pilots,” Mr Minton said.
Air League is also a training ground for aviation engineers, crop dusters, mechanics and air stewards.
“So there is definitely opportunities for employment either commercially or in the services,” he said.
The Rathmines/Toronto squadron now meets at Toronto Public School, and is welcoming new members.
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