The Royal Australian Air Force has replaced the term ‘airmen and airwomen’ with ‘aviators’ as it enters its second century.
FILE PHOTO: Royal Australian Air Force air movements operators and loadmasters load a pallet of humanitarian aid on board a C-17A Globemaster. Photo by Corporal Jesse Kane.
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld revealed this change on 31 March at a centenary dinner for past and present aviators.
Air Marshal Hupfeld said that as the Royal Australian Air Force charted its path forward, he wanted to instil a stronger sense of identity.
“Of all the work that has been done in developing our air-force culture, the most challenging dilemma has been fully explaining who we are,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.
“We understand well enough what we are and what we do – but have never quite managed to successfully articulate WHO we are.
“We are ALL aviators.
“As an air force, we are born of the air and space – it is our home, and the place from which we serve our nation.
“Our trade is aviation.
“In everything that we do, we are aviators first and foremost – all of us, by virtue of what we do and what we believe.
“It is what binds us together.”
Air Marshal Hupfeld cautioned against confusing the role of pilots with RAAF personnel’s common and collective purpose to the nation – “to think, act and imagine from the perspective of the skies and space above us.”
The change was timed with an announcement to revamp Royal Australian Air Force culture through the Our Air Force, Our Culture program, which builds on the foundation of previous measures, and closely aligns with the update to the Air Force Strategy launched in 2020.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I wholeheartedly endorse this news on the grounds I always hated RAAF’s double-dipping, politically-correct ‘airmen and airwomen’ – when Navy and Army referred only to sailors or soldiers without fear of gender discrimination – but agree that ‘aviator’ is very contentious.