High achievers blazing a trail through the sky
Dedication, commitment and collective passion for aviation has guided the careers of three Royal Australian Air Force female aircrew members who are currently appointed to key command positions within Surveillance and Response Group Units (SRG).
With their career journeys taking on a similar trajectory, Squadron Leader Melissa Houston (Number 11 Squadron C Flight Commander), Squadron Leader Jenna Higgins (Number 10 Squadron Executive Officer) and Squadron Leader Trisha Kelly (No. 292 Squadron B Flight Commander) first trained together during the AP-3C Orion Navigator/Communicator Conversion course held at No. 292 Squadron in January 2009.
Today, their appointments within No. 92 and No. 42 Wings based at RAAF Base Edinburgh are a significant achievement.
“I am proud to say that Trisha and I are the first female Flight Commanders at 11SQN and 292SQN,” Squadron Leader Houston said.
“Notably, Jenna is the third at 10SQN which is a reflection on the progression of Air Force women in leadership positions within the Unit and SRG.”
With these key milestones to be celebrated, Squadron Leader Houston said she was looking forward to a future when females in leadership roles were not “history making” just part of the norm.
“We take great comfort knowing that young girls who aspire to be aircrew or any category group within Air Force have the same opportunities to meet the same criteria for career satisfaction and progression.”
Collectively, females make up around 7-8 per cent of the total aircrew workforce across the three Edinburgh-based squadrons with 11 female aircrew members at 11SQN, four at 10SQN and one at 292SQN with female aircrew students currently on course.
As such, Air Force women fulfilling sub-unit command roles within these units is a notable achievement with their measurable skills, knowledge and experience guiding the appointments.
In addition to female aircrew participation in leadership roles, notably key command positions such as Commander SRG (Air Commodore Barbara Courtney) and Officer Commanding No. 44 Wing (Group Captain Ruth Elsley) are among many other senior leadership roles currently supported by Air Force women across SRG.