Flying Officer Ayah Khalid has lived in three countries, but has found her home in Air Force.
CAPTION: Flying Officer Ayah Khalid, left, with Leadership Reaction Course team member Flying Officer Clayton Wilson during a course at Officer Training School at RAAF Base East Sale. Story by Flight Lieutenant Julia Ravell. Photo by Flight Sergeant Scott Robbins.
The 22-year-old Dux of Coburg High School and aerospace engineering honours graduate said joining the Air Force had given her life a significant purpose.
Flying Officer Khalid said not only could she strive to excel in her engineering career, she also had the opportunity to give something back to the community in the only country where she had felt welcome and at home.
Flying Officer Khalid lived in Kuwait until she was 11 years old. This was where her mother, a Lebanese woman who had studied a Bachelor of Business in Canberra, worked and became an Australian citizen, and met her father, an Egyptian engineer working in Kuwait.
The family moved back to Egypt in 2009, just prior to the period of unrest known as the Arab Spring that culminated in the military coup ousting Egypt’s democratically elected government.
“Our suburb was away from where all the chaos was going on, but I understood to some extent what was happening when the police turned against the people,” Flying Officer Khalid said.
“It was pretty scary for a 13-year-old.
“I grew up in Kuwait and then we moved to Egypt. My life had been all over the place and I felt like I was an outsider everywhere.
“Moving so much was unsettling and it was only when we came to Australia and I went through high school and university here that, for first time, I felt as though I belonged.
“Because of dad’s career, I’ve always wanted to be an engineer.
“But joining the Air Force is more than just about being able to work on state-of-the-art, fifth-generation aircraft; it’s about giving back to the community, a way of showing my appreciation about what this country’s given to me.”
Flying Officer Khalid said she had always admired and respected people in uniform for all the work they do for Australia.
“I’m very excited about being posted to RAAF Base Edinburgh as an armaments engineer when I’ve finished officer’s training school, further training and seeing more of Australia,” she said.
As for her time at OTS, said she loved drill, wanted to talk to – and get to know – all 52 students in her officers’ course and has helped organise a yoga group for her peers to help them relieve stress in their rare spare time.
But the drill?
“It’s so good. I really enjoy it,” Flying Officer Khalid said.
“When I watched the amazing precision of the Air Force centenary displays, I thought they epitomized perfection, discipline and dignity.
“I’m proud to be part of that. This really is my ideal job.”