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.
Arielle was one of 160 Indigenous students, Elders and community members, from South East Queensland, on a recent NAIDOC community familiarisation flight from RAAF Base Amberley.
Arielle could barely contain her excitement when the C-17 took to the air, thrilled when the rear ramp lowered, showing the stunning landscape of Yuggera and Ugarapul country, the lands which RAAF Base Amberley and surrounds are located.
“I felt scared when we took off, then when we were in the air I was fine, when they lowered the back ramp we saw lots of country, it was amazing,” Arielle said.
“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.”
It is 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 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 Air Force experiences.
“Seeing the smiling faces on young Indigenous people at the end of a flight as they get to briefly experience life in the 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.”