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Leveling the skies: military crew takes flight

An all-female Air Force crew flew a KC-30A multi-role tanker transport for the first time on March 7 to mark International Women’s Day.

The flight, from RAAF Base Amberley to Perth, was staffed by female pilots, attendants and technicians, and a female team of Air Force air traffic controllers directed their journey.

Championed by the Australian chapter of Women in Aviation International (WAI), Air Force and industry partners – including Qantas, Airservices Australia and Jetstar – a number of domestic flights were also staffed with all-female crews to highlight the growing roles of female professionals on flight decks, in aircraft cabins, airports and air traffic control towers across the country.

As with the No. 33 Squadron air-to-air refuelling trainer flight, the 10 domestic flights took off under the control of all-female crews assisted on their journey by female air traffic controllers, ground operation support staff, despatchers and cabin crews from the participating organisations.

Air Force pilots, Flying Officer Laura McGeough (left) and Flight Lieutenant Hayley Moulds, in the cockpit of a No. 33 Squadron KC-30A Multi-role Tanker Transport at RAAF Base Amberley. This image has been digitally modified to omit screen data. Images: Defence

 Flight Lieutenant Nicole Forrester, the KC-30A co-pilot, said flying the mission had been on her bucket list.

“Since getting my wings, I’ve never flown with an all-female crew,” Flight Lieutenant Forrester said.

“It’s so significant for girls to see women who look like them sitting in a flight deck or in uniform. The next generation looks for role models to show them what they can aspire to and this is a fantastic opportunity to do just that.”

Lea Vestic, President of the Australian chapter of WAI, said her not-for-profit group was passionate about empowering and educating women involved in the aviation sector.

“These flights have been made possible through the collaboration of women and operators across the industry who want to celebrate the contributions and diverse range of occupations open to others,” Mrs Vestic said.

“Small but meaningful examples like this show how far we’ve come and celebrate the skilled women who are part of Australian aviation.”

Air Traffic Control Officer, Flying Officer Emily Day, from No. 452 Squadron, observes a No. 33 Squadron KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport departing RAAF Base Amberley on a flight to Perth. Image: Defence

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