What could give a teenager the chance to fly in a military aircraft, train a service puppy, and handle firefighting equipment all in five days?
The Air Force Women in Aviation Program is the answer. It’s a program where women aged 16-24 can explore the different careers available in the Air Force.
Recently held at RAAF Base Amberley, the program enabled a group of young women to briefly immerse themselves in Defence life.
Participant Chelsea Smith, 17, praised the program and said it is suited to women who have their heart set on an Air Force role or just want a taste of the lifestyle.
“It was such an amazing experience and one that I will remember forever,” Chelsea said.
Participants explored the different entry pathways into Defence.
They were provided opportunities to engage with serving personnel and gain first hand experiences of what a life in the Air Force could be.
Program Director Squadron Leader Jo-Anne Hume said that the program was not just for school leavers.
“The program helps dispel the military life myth,” Squadron Leader Hume said.
“It provides an opportunity for young women to have a look at military life and maybe challenge the traditional gendered roles they may not have necessarily believed they could do.
“The women were able to discuss with serving members about their roles and how they balanced their life and living on base.”
Squadron Leader Hume said the program delivered new encounters for the young women including leadership experiences and a C-17A flight that put participants outside their comfort zone.
“We had two first time fliers who did not know what to expect,” Squadron Leader Hume said.
“It is amazing to watch the young women blossom from a new experience and overcoming any doubt about what they are capable of achieving.”
The participants were keen to know how the Air Force ‘fits together’.
They engaged in hands-on experiences, sat in cockpits, watched security dogs latch onto ‘intruders’, donned firefighting equipment, and flew in multiple simulators.
Chelsea came away from the program with a better understanding of the Air Force lifestyle, and said that it solidified her goal of becoming a pilot.
“I would absolutely love to pursue a career in the Air Force, and I’m currently in the recruitment process, which I became certain about undertaking after the completion of this program,” Chelsea said.
Squadron Leader Hume said it was “amazing watching the young women grow so much in such a short period”.
“Hopefully this program encourages the next generation of people to join,” Squadron Leader Hume said.
“The future of the Air Force is with a diverse workforce.
“Showing young people what they can do in the Air Force is the first step to them believing that they can
Picture Participants in the 2022 Air Force Women in Aviation Program and their guides on the ramp of a C-17A Globemaster at RAAF Base Amberley. Photo: Corporal Brett Sherriff