On a stormy Wednesday evening in March, Forest Lake Squadron of the Australian Air League held its annual Women in Aviation Night, which has proven to be a big hit with cadets and adults alike and a regular feature on the Squadron calendar.
Each year the Squadron is privileged to hear from women in various aviation and aerospace roles, from international airline and domestic pilots, Flight Test Systems Specialists to Loadmasters and Engineers and this year was no different.
The evening got off to a rocky start with a large microburst passing over the airfield and the Officers trying to reconfigure the hangar and aircraft now parked outside. Luckily it cleared within 15 minutes, providing a picturesque backdrop for our invited guests and speakers.
The first speaker was Erin Douglas, who is a flying instructor at the nearby Redcliffe Airport. Erin was initially fearful of flying; however, she was determined to beat her fear, and after a trial flight, she has never looked back! From that start, today she is now a flying instructor and is teaching student pilots the art of learning to fly aircraft.
Erin had the cadets enthralled with amazing tales of the many aircraft she has flown in and the multiple jobs she has held across the aviation industry so far; she inspired the cadets to pursue an aviation career, which may not even be the traditional pilot role.
Erin will also soon appear in an upcoming documentary called “Touch the Sky”, which follows eight Australian women overcoming barriers and getting to where they want to be – flying.
These women include mothers, daughters, influencers, and refugees who together share what it takes to overcome internal expectations and external pressures to take to the skies. Some are just beginning their aviation journey while others are further along, but all want to encourage more female participation in an industry they have come to love.
To learn more about this documentary, visit the website at https://www.touchthesky.au.
With the cadets still buzzing from Erin’s presentation, the cadets were then joined by SGT Jaci, who is an Air Movements member with the Royal Australian Air Force.
Jaci explained to the cadets some of the many tasks that are involved with her job as an Air Movements member, such as how cargo and passengers are prepared and briefed before a flight, how pallets of cargo are built and weighed, then loaded onto aircraft and communicated to the flight crew who then enter the weights into the aircraft computer and make sure it is all reflected accurately. Jaci also explained how she is responsible for refuelling aircraft, including the C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster.
Some of the more interesting experiences she shared included moving a Role 2 Medical Hospital from Vietnam to South Sudan and loading Australian Army helicopters into the back of a C-17 Globemaster transport to be flown quickly to where they are needed.
The night was rounded off by a presentation by Dr Carmel, who is an Aviation Medical Officer within the Royal Australian Air Force.
Dr Carmel discussed the pathway to medicine in the Air Force from her time at school, through her medical training, to practising winching operations off a rescue helicopter and flying with the Roulettes as their Doctor and deploying on operations worldwide.
As with previous years, the night was a great success. The cadets and parents of Forest Lake Squadron wish to thank all the inspirational speakers that generously donated their time to come along to talk to the cadets about their experiences.