First time flying

As the rear ramp lowered mid-flight on a 36 Squadron C-17 Globemaster III, Arielle Wilson, an Indigenous student from Bremer State High School in Ipswich, smiled in delight; this was her first flight in an aircraft.

CAPTIONElders, students and community members from the south-east Queensland Indigenous community board a 36 Squadron C-17 Globemaster III for a NAIDOC familiarisation flight from RAAF Base Amberley. Story by Flight Lieutenant Greg Hinks.

Arielle was one of 160 Indigenous students, Elders and community members from south-east Queensland on a NAIDOC community familiarisation flight from RAAF Base Amberley on August 15.

Arielle could barely contain her excitement when the C-17 took to the air.

She was thrilled when the rear ramp lowered, showing the stunning landscape of Yuggera and Ugarapul country, the lands on which RAAF Base Amberley and surrounds are located.

“I felt scared when we took off,” Arielle said.

“Then when we were in the air I was fine.

“When they lowered the back ramp we saw lots of country – it was amazing.

“When I saw the loadmaster at the back of the plane, I was surprised – I didn’t know you could do that, especially for a job.”

CAPTIONIpswich Bremer State High School Indigenous students Harmony Shaddick, Arielle Wilson and Koda Sheather flying in a 26 Squadron C-17 Globemaster III on a NAIDOC familiarisation flight from RAAF Base Amberley.

It was important to Group Captain Dennis Tan, Senior Australian Defence Force Officer at RAAF Base Amberley, to welcome Indigenous Elders and members from the local community to the base for the flight.

“The connection we have with our Yuggera elders, Aunty Lilly and Aunty Mireea, is a warm and long-standing relationship for which I’m genuinely grateful,” Group Captain Tan said.

“From our very own yarning circle through to our Indigenous youth programs and NAIDOC community flights, I’m proud that we can showcase the capabilities and opportunities the Royal Australian Air Force can offer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women.”

Indigenous Liaison Officer at RAAF Base Amberley Flight Lieutenant Sarah Woods enjoys cultivating these relationships with local Indigenous communities with RAAF experiences.

“Seeing the smiling faces on young Indigenous people at the end of a flight as they get to briefly experience life in the Royal Australian Air Force is extremely satisfying,” Flight Lieutenant Woods said.

“We’ve had a number of Indigenous people join Defence after something as simple as taking them for a visit to a base, one of our youth camps or on a flight like this in a C-17.

“It shows Elders and young people alike that you can do anything – that there are pathways for them in Defence.”








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