Warm welcome from a world away

Growing up in South Africa Flight Lieutenant Albert ‘Snoopy’ Van De Vyver never expected he would one day be spending his weekends skiing and exploring the Gippsland region of Victoria with his family.

CAPTIONFlight Lieutenant Albert Van De Vyver with his wife and daughters at RAAF Base East Sale at a 32 Squadron Family Day. Story by Flying Officer Ellis Mitchell. Photo by Petty Officer Richard Prideaux.

Now a 32 Squadron pilot and South African lateral transfer with the Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant Van de Vyver started his military career with the South African Army in 1995 and studied a Bachelor of Commerce at the Military Academy.

With no previous exposure to the military, Flight Lieutenant Van De Vyver thought his time in Defence would be brief, but a slight pivot would ensure the opposite.

Influenced by his wife, Flight Lieutenant Ansunelle Van De Vyver – who worked as a crew attendant for the South African Air Force – Flight Lieutenant Van De Vyver applied for a pilot’s course and transferred to the South African Air Force in 2002.

In the following years, Flight Lieutenant  Van De Vyver became a qualified flying instructor, piloting aircraft such as the C208 Caravan, King Air B200, PC12, Falcon 50 and Falcon 900.

During this period, Flight Lieutenant Van De Vyver and his wife welcomed two daughters, which, combined with news the RAAF had been accepting South African lateral transfers since the early 2000s, prompted them to move to Australia.

“Moving to a new country is a significant undertaking, with a lot of uncertainty and fear,” he said.

Flight Lieutenant Van de Vyver was initially worried how his children would integrate into a new culture, however, he and his family were pleasantly surprised at how they were embraced and welcomed by the RAAF and their local community.

“It was crystal clear there is a common thread with regards to military culture and values,” he said.

The Van De Vyver family are all now proud Australian citizens and consider Australia their home. There is even discussion about their children following in their parents’ footsteps by building careers of their own in the RAAF some day.





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