The new Wing Commander of RAAF Base Tindal will be in the pilot's seat at one of the most pivotal moments in its 30-year history.
Tindal, home today to a squadron of classic F/A-18A Hornets, which are still considered the most advanced of their type at the ripe age of 30, is in the midst of a multi-billion dollar upgrade.
Despite their sterling service to the Australian military, the attack mainstay of the RAAF are to be phased out and replaced by the stealthy F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.
Tim Ferrell, who has been working towards the command position his entire career, says the change over to the new jet fighters will be the end of an era.
"We'll be the last classic Hornet squadron in Australia," he said.
"So we have close to 30 years of history when she goes."
On a positive note, the RAAF is doing a lot of work behind the scenes to preserve the F/A-18A Hornets - they will still be around, just on the ground instead of the air at war memorials and museums.
"It is very special for Katherine to be the last base of the generation, I just think it's quite historic," he said.
"If we look back, in 2003, 75 was the first squadron since the 50s to be deployed in active operations using the fighter jets. And they will be the last."
A bit of a history enthusiast himself - you'll find him reading military biographies in his spare time - he says it is a big honour.
The incoming aircraft will give Australia an unmatched capability in the Pacific Asia region, Mr Ferrell said, making for a formidable force.
While Katherine will be the last to be equipped with the new fighters, expected around 2021, as a town we will not see too much of a difference.
"They are a single engine aircraft. Where as the hornets are a duel engine.
"What will Katherine see? Not too much difference. You will hear them. They will be noisier."
For the new Wing Commander, looking back on his 20 year career, he says it has taken hard work and determination to get to this once-in-a-lifetime position.
Taking over from Andrew Tatnell, who left late last year, he arrived with his wife and two daughters.
The stint in Katherine will be his second - the first being as the base operations officer in 2004 and '05.
Describing himself as a "bit of a generalist", he has made sure to take on vastly different roles throughout his career.
He has been deployed overseas twice, first as as the administration officer and visa liaison officer on Operation Catalyst at Al Udied Air Base, Qatar, and then later as the executive officer of the tri-service Force Support Unit 8 based at Al Minhad Air Base, UAE on Operation Slipper.
He described the experience with the analogy of the grand final: "you train all your life to go do a job and occasionally you get to go do it for real."
Equipped with a NBA and a Masters degree in Military Defence, this Katherine based role is still the highlight of his career so far.
"You only ever get one go to command if you are lucky," he said.
"Generally this is the epitome of what you train to do. I was elated to be selected for this rank as a Wing Commander, and the advantage of this base is you get to do two jobs - the base commander role and as well as the Commanding Officer.
"What you get to do here is probably the best in the country.
"It was a huge honour to be selected for this role."
Originally entering the RAAF with the "kid ambition" of flying jets, he joined as an Active Reserve Clerk in March 1999 while studying at university.
Although he said the experience of flying in the Hornet is one like no other, he has no regrets of taking a different career path.
"I've been able to go and see and do things I never thought I would.
"I've been lucky enough to fly in lots of different aircraft in the air force, but I fly desk, I don't mind that because I get to watch people grow and see them develop. That is the rewarding part."
While in the role he wants to set the base up for success in the future, which means ensuring the infrastructure is up to date, and big projects are taken on.
Hesitant to say Tindal is the most important base for Australia, for a lot of people it is the best they will experience, he said.
"We have a range (Delamere) that is close by, usually six to seven months of clear blue sky, heaps of air space to come and play with, so from that point of view, the training benefit our air crew within Australia and the air crew from overseas who come here get from using this space you cannot get anywhere else in the world."
As a whole organisation he said the RAAF is very technologically advanced.
"What we can do with what we have got is very good. The quote you occasionally hear is 'we are the best small air force in the world'.
"In essence around about 15,000 people are delivering a unique skill set and capability for the defence in Australia for the Australian Government.
"If you look at the size of other air forces around the world they are a lot larger, but we seem to do more with less," he said.
Living on base with his wife and two daughters, aged seven and three, he said he is looking forward to getting out and about into the bush with the kids and seeing a different part of Australia.
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