A group of Griffith University students has taken to the skies with the Royal Australian Air Force to broaden their horizons.
The five students from various disciplines were among 17 women selected from around the country to take part in the Air Force Aviation Camp for Women at the Amberley RAAF base west of Brisbane from July 1-5.
The camp is an initiative to boost capability through diversity by increasing female participation in aviation roles, where women represent less than 15 percent of the workforce.
First-year Bachelor or Aviation student Alexandra Speakman, who has her sights set on joining the RAAF as a pilot, said the camp was a fantastic way to get a taste for a career in the air force.
“It was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” Speakman said.
“Our timetable was packed with leadership/team building activities, squadron visits, mentoring sessions, simulator experiences and, of course, a tactical flight in a C-17.
“This was a highlight for me, it’s definitely up there on the list of aircraft I would love to fly, their capability is amazing.”
Participants also got to stay on base and eat in the mess hall, meet the Senior Australian Defence Force Officer of RAAF Amberley, take part in a pre-fitness assessment and conditioning, and network with female pilots, mission aircrew, controllers, engineers and technicians.
Fourth-year student Matilda Rois O’Kelly-Wooller, who is about to complete a double degree in Psychological Science and Criminology and Criminal Justice, said the camp gave her an insight into the particular field of the air force in which she one day hopes to work as an intelligence analyst.
“The women’s aviation camp was a once in a lifetime experience, we definitely got to experience opportunities that others will not have,” Rois O’Kelly-Wooller said.
“I wanted to understand the complexity of the wider network and I have made some brilliant friends and skills that relate to the broader air force.”
Bachelor of Aviation student Bethany Irvine said the practical aspects of the camp were distinct highlights in her learning journey to date.
“The camp was such a fantastic week, I enjoyed all aspects of it but the highlights included a flight in a C-17 Globemaster and flying in a F/A-18F simulator,” Irvine said.
“Viewing F/A-18F’s flying was also a major highlight as I aspire to be a fast jet pilot one day.”
Participants were selected for the camp based on the strength of their application, interest in aviation roles as well as maths and sciences, and their leadership qualities.
The Officer in Charge of Aviation Camp, Squadron Leader Elise Stade, took on the mentoring role to share her experiences in the RAAF and offer a real-world perspective to the camp participants.
“I joined the air force straight out of school and completed university while in the military, and now I have a young family,” Stade said.
“So this camp is a great way to give women the confidence in making this amazing career choice and the knowledge that they’ll be supported throughout.”
RAAF flight and technical camps for young women have been running since 2013 and have produced positive results, with 76 per cent of participants actively pursuing ADF careers through Defence Force Recruiting.