Army Cadets are flying high

06 February 2024
  • History & commemoration
  • Ideas & info

Cadets put their drone flying skills to the ultimate test at the Australian Army Cadets’ drone racing camp, proudly sponsored by RSL Queensland.

Nurturing the next generation 

While RSL Queensland is best known for supporting current and ex-serving veterans, it is also important to nurture the next generation of leaders through sponsorship and support initiatives. One such initiative was the recent Australian Army Cadets (AAC) drone racing camp.  

From 13 to 20 January, cadets from across the country gathered at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane to build, code and pilot drones. Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Michael Davis from AAC Headquarters said the camp was a chance for the cadets to learn from some of the best drone racers in the country while honing their science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.  

“Drone racing is a new and exciting STEM opportunity for the AAC program. Cadets adopt a unique skillset to challenge themselves in the mechanical and electronics fields and develop a platform to fly,” WO2 Davis says. 

“[On the camp], cadets gained a military-like experience, learning alongside the Army Drone Racing Team to build, program and race a specially designed drone. They also developed new friendships in a competitive environment.” 

Australian Army Cadets

Australian Army Cadets pose with a mini-whoop drone | Image - CDTSGT Joshua Purcell

Building the drones involved everything from soldering parts together to programming computer software required to fly them. It was a prime opportunity for cadets to demonstrate their ingenuity and endurance.  

“The cadets felt proud to be sponsored by RSL Queensland, as it’s a great organisation supporting people that need assistance,” WO2 Davis says.  

“The sponsorship gave cadets more exposure to understand the build side of things and develop skills to race and repair drones with better knowledge. It also gave AAC the opportunity to bring in a partner to share our success of this STEM program to help upskill our youth.” 

Australian Army Cadet Drone Racing Team

Members of the Australian Army Cadets Drone Racing Team | Image - CDTSGT Joshua Purcell

A buzz for young pilots 

Throughout the week-long camp, more than 30 Army cadets aged 13 to 18 were treated to workshops facilitated by dedicated Defence Force volunteers and drone experts. 

Cadet Warrant Officer Class 2 Eroni Tagicakitai represented 122 Army Cadet Unit at the camp, travelling to Brisbane from Mackay for the opportunity. He was initially drawn to attend through his passion for STEM. 

Australian Army Cadets

CDTWO2  Eroni Tagicakitai | Image - CDTSGT Joshua Purcell

“I’ve always loved STEM; it’s fantastic. I’m currently taking engineering and it’s one of my favourite subjects at school,” Eroni says. 

As the camp progressed, the cadets raced their creations in a round-robin style tournament, some reaching speeds of up to 200km/h. Throughout the week, Eroni – whose pilot name is Destiny Zero – enjoyed flying the drones in both simulator and real-life scenarios. 

“We practised in a VelociDrone simulator and in preparation for the course I tried to get as much time as I could in the simulator. It was fun and a good program to use,” Eroni says. 

Australian Army Cadets

Cadets used virtual simulators to learn the foundations of flying a drone | Image - CDTCPL  Adeline Puteli

“We moved on to the real drones (which were the mini whoops) and got to fly them through the circuit that the Army Drone Racing Team set up for us. 

“We then started building five-inch drones and moved on to flying them, which was pretty cool.” 

Following this exciting week, selected cadets will represent AAC at special events such as Airshows F1, Adelaide 500, National Championships and the United Kingdom’s International Military Drone Racing Tournament. Later in 2024, cadets will also share their skills in the delivery of a short course on indoor drone handling before attending another camp to finesse their five-inch drone racing. 

Australian Army Cadets

CDTWO2  Eroni Tagicakitai and Australian Army Drone Racing Team member Sapper Daniel McCullock | Image - CDTCPL  Adeline Puteli

Discover more about Army Cadets

Australian Army Cadets is a youth program that shares the character and values of the Australian Army. Visit to learn more about the program.