Pilot Officers Alanna Carew and Kris Byrne are following their passion for aviation while undertaking training at the Air Mission Training School at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria.
CAPTION: Pilot Officer Alanna Carew RAAF Base East Sale with a 32 Squadron B350 King Air Aircraft. Story by Flight Lieutenant Cindy Ritchie. Photo by Petty Officer Rick Prideaux.
The school is responsible for training Officer Aviation – Mission aircrew, a diverse range of non-pilot roles on military aircraft that are responsible for the safe and efficient completion of missions.
These roles include the operation of airborne electronic systems, working in surveillance and battle management, air combat, or maritime patrol and response.
Growing up surrounded by aviation, it’s no surprise Pilot Officer Carew joined the Royal Australian Air Force with a Diploma of Aviation and a commercial helicopter pilot licence.
Her father is a 737 pilot and she has been flying with the Royal Australian Air Force Cadets from around the age of 14.
“I love the feeling of being free up in the clouds where you get a different perspective on the world.
“When I was at school, I had an interest in Defence but wasn’t sure I wanted to make such a long commitment but now that I have, I absolutely love it, have no regrets and wish I had done it earlier,” Pilot Officer Carew said.
When she completes her mission training, Pilot Officer Carew hopes to become an electronic warfare officer.
“As an electronic warfare officer, you get a good oversight of everything that’s happening and you’re the one who is protecting all the other fighter aircraft who are going in to get their job done,” she said.
With a similar passion for aviation, Pilot Officer Byrne said her family has a long history of service in the ADF.
“Being fourth generation Defence, joining the Australian Defence Force was something I had always aspired to, but it wasn’t something I actively pursued until a little later in my life,” she said.
Pilot Officer Byrne said she started studying a Bachelor of Aviation (Management) during COVID and began working in an operations role with a company that operated the Westpac Search & Rescue contract.
“This role helped affirm my passion for aviation and quickly made me realise that I was ready to be involved in a much larger capacity – working with like-minded people in a more personally fulfilling role.”
Pilot Officer Byrne hopes to qualify as a Maritime Patrol and Response Officer at the end of her training.
“I am attracted to the dynamic nature of the maritime domain and the constantly evolving challenges that brings, as well as the opportunity to work alongside an extremely talented crew on board a technologically advanced platform like the P-8 Poseidon,” Pilot Officer Byrne said.
“It’s a varied role involving search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance gathering.”
Pilot Officer Byrne had broad interests during school and undertook STEM subjects alongside non-STEM subjects like history and geography.
“Whilst I think that STEM skills alone will be very beneficial for new recruits coming into the Australian Defence Force, and more specifically aviation roles in the Air Force, I think it is more important to have an active interest in the world of STEM and a curious mind,” Pilot Officer Byrne said.
“The Air Force has extremely good training facilities and instructors and these skills can be taught to anyone with an active engagement in wanting to learn.
“I think it is important to follow your passions and do what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try new things and keep an open mind about different opportunities that might come your way.”