Top honour for Willow

Willow Plenty, 11, was awarded Junior Cadet of the Year. (Supplied)

Michaela Meade

A Point Cook Australian Air League cadet has been named Junior Cadet of the Year.

Willow Plenty, 11, received the award in recognition for her commitment to the Australian Air League last year.

The league is run for boys and girls aged eight to 18 who have a passion for aviation, with education modules designed to enable cadets to earn badges and become community leaders.

Willow, who is a member of the Australian Air League Point Cook Squadron, said she was “very excited” to be awarded the honour.

“It was amazing that I got it,” she said.

“I felt very proud of myself, because I knew there was a big chance that I wouldn’t get it, because everyone is so good.”

Willow said 2020 presented a “difficult” challenge with her involvement in the league, but the persisted.

“I did exams online, and drills [and] made sure to keep up my practice.,” she said.

“It was still very fun because I attended online events.”

Willow wanted to encourage other young people, especially girls, to get involved in the league.

“If you have a passion, this could make it even greater.

“It’s not all drills and exams, they also do flying activities… I got to do lots of turns [in a jet].

“It’s a very good place to come to share your love of aviation.”

Commanding officer Bryan McGrath said they decided to nominate Willow, the only girl in the squadron last year, for the award because of her “clear and positive attitude”.

“Willow was so excited to get it… it’s an award that goes back to [1934, when the Australian Air League began],” Mr McGrath said.

“She competed with eight other cadets, [and] the judges said she excelled.”

Mr McGrath said the league is keen to involve more female cadets.

“Females play such an important role in aviation, and they are underrepresented unfortunately.”