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A new chapter, a new arrival for Air Force pilot

Flight Lieutenant Ali de Vries is one of 1500 new faces to put on the uniform at RAAF Base Amberley this year.

It’s an exciting change for Flight Lieutenant de Vries as she begins a new chapter in her life.

Her first child, Charlie, was born last year at St Andrew’s Hospital in Ipswich.

This year she has a new posting and a new job.

The accomplished pilot and flying instructor is now No. 35 Squadron’s aviation safety officer.

“This is my 18th year of service and what I am currently enjoying is a healthy work life balance,” Flight Lieutenant de Vries said.

“The Air Force has been very flexible. I am working five days a fortnight which is a really good balance for me.”

Flight Lieutenant de Vries took a year off for maternity leave last year and has enjoyed returning to South East Queensland and close to her family at the Gold Coast.

“This is my third time to be posted back at RAAF Base Amberley. I am enjoying exploring what has changed in Ipswich,” she said.

“I am excited by the rise of some nice cafes that have popped up, especially for breakfast. I like to see small businesses doing well and providing a nice place to take your young family.”

Flight Lieutenant de Vries has had many career highlights in her time behind the controls in the sky.

“One highlight was cutting a lap of the world,” Flight Lieutenant de Vries said.

“I flew myself all the way around in a C17, it took 10 days.

“The most complicated part was dealing with European airspace but we got to see some beautiful scenery.”

Flight Lieutenant de Vries cut her teeth in the now retired Caribous, flying in the mountainous terrain of PNG conducting resupply missions on short unprepared fields. In 2009 she marked her 1000th hour flying the plane.

Flight Lieutenant de Vries also spent time as a flying instructor at the ADF Basic Flying Training School.

She has hung up her flying suit, for now, while working part time and caring for her baby.

Flight Lieutenant de Vries was able to combine her two loves recently when she was able to take her family along to the base for the Defence Community Organisation Welcome Expo.

The expo is held annually for newly posted Defence members and their families to RAAF Base Amberley, Ipswich and its surrounds. Families are introduced to local service groups and also to meet other recent arrivals.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to bring Charlie onto the base,” Flight Lieutenant de Vries said.

“I showed her the planes that I fly and it was nice to be able to show her off to my colleagues. I’m proud of her and my career so to be able to join the two together was pretty good.”

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