The female members of the logistics’ section of Air Force’s No. 92 Wing hosted two special visitors on November 19.
CAPTION: Former Women’s Royal Australian Air Force member Valarie Rappold is shown how to fly the P-8 Poseidon simulator by No. 11 Squadron pilot Flight Lieutenant Larissa Stephens at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Story by Flight Lieutenant Nat Giles. Photo by Corporal Brenton Kwaterski.
Gawler residents Valarie Rappold and Lesley Smith, who served in the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force (WRAAF) at RAAF Base Edinburgh more than 70 years earlier after WWII, were given a tour of the base.
“It’s absolutely incredible how much has changed on the base since we worked here – it’s completely unrecognisable, although one or two buildings did bring back memories,” Valarie said.
“Most importantly are the changes that have happened to support women in the workplace and allow them to follow any career path they want for as long as they want.”
After the visit to No. 92 Wing, the ladies were taken to lunch at the sergeants’ mess with current serving personnel and then flew in the P-8 Poseidon simulator at No. 292 Squadron.
“The simulator was just so impressive,” Lesley said.
“What a wonderful opportunity.”
Sergeant Kylie Hawley, a logistics’ supplier at No. 92 Wing, said it was an honour to meet the women who helped pioneer the way forward for the current generation.
“Chatting to these ladies and hearing their stories of the limitations on their service back then really makes me so grateful that those women paved the way for us today,” Sergeant Hawley said.
“Val and Lesley showed us photos from their younger years when they first joined the WRAAF and I was surprised when Lesley told me that she had applied to join in secret!
“Luckily, her family were supportive when they found out.
“It’s been such an honour to host them and to show them all the changes we’ve made.”
Sergeant Hawley presented unit coins to both ladies.
The visit was part of the centenary of Air Force commemorations recognising the theme ‘Then, Now, Always’.