Come Fly With Me
In 1994 I was a third-year military cadet at my high school. The annual exercise that our cadet unit participated in was the highlight of my year. I looked forward to working and learning from people who had chosen soldiering as their career.
Each September I was in my element. And to say that I loved being a cadet was an understatement. Needless to say, I joined the army soon after graduation.
On one morning in September of 1994 while on annual exercise, my desire for military service crystallised thanks to the unmistakable approach of two UH-1H Iroquois helicopters.
This aircraft had been one of Australia’s key aviation troop transports since Vietnam and here were two of them preparing to land in our training area!
I’ll never forget that day. Soon after both aircraft shut down our Commanding Officer explained that as part of a training exercise we, the cadets, would be transported via Iroquois.
Nothing in my world had ever been so cool.
We received safety briefings and boarded. The loadmaster handed me a headset, gave me a thumbs up and I put them on.
I heard multiple voices, the pilots in other aircraft in the area on the same frequency and our pilots. Wait, was that a woman’s voice I could hear? Sure enough, it was. The pilot sitting in the right-hand seat was Australia’s first woman military helicopter pilot. It was incredible and man, could she fly!
Now it’s one thing to fly on a commercial airline, it’s quite another to feel the air cushion created by a helicopter’s hover or the exhilaration of roaring along with doors open, maneuvering just above the earth.
This experience was profound. THIS is my calling. I will be an army aviator.
My ambition was made clear by the actions of two people, both of whom were Commanding Officers. They created the conditions for me to realise and completely fall in love with my passion for aviation and create incredible mate-ships in the journey that would ensue.
Sadly, one of these men passed recently.
I never met him and too late I offer my sincere gratitude for his actions that day in September 1994.
You changed my world for the better.
So to you and your family, and the proud military heritage you have helped create, thank you for your service.