Captain (CPT) Lester Leong Kah Soon
Air Traffic Controller
The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) provides unparalleled career opportunities to those who seek to soar new heights with their passion. While the work demands grit, resolve, and a drive for continuous improvement, you’ll find opportunities and experiences that are unlike any other. Just ask Captain (CPT) Lester Leong, 29, who hasn’t looked back since he made the decision to join the RSAF eight years ago. To those hoping to find a meaningful career that fuels growth in character building and professional development while providing a first class team to work with, CPT Leong’s advice is this: Dare to take the leap.
What are your current roles and responsibilities?
As an Air Warfare Officer specialising in Air Traffic Control (ATC), I direct aircraft during their flights and ensure safe take-off and landing. As part of my role as a Tower Controller, I have to be vigilant of my surrounding environment and am always on a look out for potential hazards, such as drones or even wildlife on the airfield. I also devise different and realistic training scenarios for the team to sharpen our skills and responses. Such scenario training is important in preparing us for a multitude of risk and threat scenarios.
How did you come to join the RSAF?
I have always looked up to uniformed personnel since young and was inspired by my uncle, who served as an Army officer. Painting the importance of having a strong defence force for Singapore, the stories my uncle shared with me sparked my interest in pursuing a military career. I had the opportunity to learn more about the AWO vocation at a recruitment talk while undergoing Basic Military Training. Intrigued by the prospect of being able to protect Singapore’s skies while developing myself professionally, I decided to join the RSAF and have not looked back since.
How has the RSAF enabled your continuous growth and development?
I liken the RSAF to a growth catalyst in which we are constantly learning and sharpening our skills as a professional. In the course of my work, every challenge is a learning experience. We are always moving, thinking and striving to ensure that we are one step ahead of everything. I am grateful to the organisation for the many learning opportunities to develop myself as a commander and leader through overseas detachments and the various courses that I have attended. Apart from military-related courses, I got to learn about wildlife control in an airport setting during one of my study trips to Minneapolis in the US.
What drives you to keep doing what you do?
It is immensely satisfying when we complete our mission safely and effectively, especially on days with extremely busy flight schedule. Strong teamwork is essential in fulfilling missions in the Air Force and I am blessed to have a strong and supportive team whom I can count on to overcome challenges with. Knowing that our contribution makes a difference and protects the peace of our nation fuels my passion to serve.
What are some of the memorable parts of your work so far?
By far, my most memorable experience was Exercise Pitch Black 2018, when we had the opportunity to train in a vast training airspace over 20 times that of Singapore. As the name of the exercise suggests, we carried out missions under night conditions, which presented a whole new set of challenges. Operating alongside some of the most advanced air forces around the world reaffirms the deep defence relations forged, highlighting the importance of multilateral interoperability in the face of an ever-changing defence threat landscape.
What do you think is important to excel in a career with the RSAF?
Never give up in the face of adversity. Remember what drives us to do what we do and stand up to the challenges that come our way. As a defender of Singapore’s skies, I believe it is important to instil a strong sense of fighting spirit in oneself as the lives of our loved ones and fellow Singaporeans rest on our shoulders.