Soldier’s flying visit to his old school

It’s not every day a Chinook lands on your school’s oval, but what made this visit more exciting for students and staff of Beerwah State High School in Queensland was the pilot – Commanding Officer 5th Aviation Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Lean – who graduated in 1998.

CAPTION: Students from Beerwah State High School get up close to an Australian Army CH-47 Chinook from 5th Aviation Regiment. Story and photo by Corporal Michael Rogers.

“It means a lot to fly back in here. There wasn’t much of a focus on Defence growing up, it wasn’t something I really thought about before I left school,” Lieutenant Colonel Lean said.

“There’s a lot happening in Army aviation right now, and I wanted to show the kids of Beerwah what a career in Defence can do for them.”

A couple of teachers remembered Lieutenant Colonel Lean from his time at the school as “a fine young man”.

After the Chinook landed and Lieutenant Colonel Lean made a short address, students were given a closer look at the aircraft.

Lieutenant Colonel Lean grew up in Landsborough, on the Sunshine Coast, and attended Beerwah State High School for grades 11 and 12.

Following an overseas gap year and an unfulfilling stint at TAFE, Lieutenant Colonel Lean applied to become an Army officer, with aviation as his first choice.

Since then, he has been on multiple deployments to East Timor, the Middle East and assisting with domestic disaster relief.

Lieutenant Colonel Lean said his father’s interest in civil aviation, including building his own plane, influenced his decision to join Army aviation.

“I helped him build the plane down in the shed, and since its completion I’ve been up for flights in it. So, when the opportunity arose to start testing for the pilot’s course, I threw my hat in the ring and here we are today,” he said.

Principal Lyn McDonald said the opportunity to have Defence members talk to the students and give insight into military careers was excellent.

“It’s also a great opportunity for the school to have this experience. To watch and feel the landing will create a sensory experience that is great for engagement and learning,” she said.

The last time Lieutenant Colonel Lean set foot in the school was for graduation, and he said not a lot had changed.

“The uniforms are a bit different, and it looks like it’s had a couple coats of new paint, but it looks a lot like it did 25 years ago,” he said.

CAPTION: Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Lean, Commanding Officer of 5th Aviation Regiment talks to his former school teachers from Beerwah State High School during a recent visit. Photo by Corporal Michael Rogers.


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