RAN’s All Female Crews Take MH-60R To The Sky For The First Time

Lieutenant Hannah Best, Lieutenant Rhiannon Thomson and Leading Seaman Clare Lassam, from 725 Squadron, made history last week.(Supplied: ADF)

A Nowra-based crew has made Australian history by becoming the first all-female flight team to operate an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter.

Pilot Lieutenant Rhiannon Thomson, aviation warfare officer Royal Navy Lieutenant Hannah Best and sensor operator Leading Seaman Clare Lassam, from 725 Squadron, flew the routine shift from HMAS Albatross last week.

Lieutenant Thomson said it was a coincidence the team were rostered together.

“It was nice to get out with my peers and do what we do every day,” she said.

“We just don’t always get to do it with an all-female crew because we are in such small numbers.”

It has taken years for the Australian first, with MH-60R helicopters rolled out in 2014.

Recruit and retain more women

Women make up 19.2 per cent of the Defence Forces of Australia.

Each of them has also put in place extensive marketing strategies to encourage more women to join.

The 2018-19 Women In The ADF report also outlined the retention of women as a priority.

The report stated women were serving less time than men and were retained at a lower rate following paid maternity or parental leave.

Lieutenant Thomson said when she began her training as a pilot in 2016, there were no female role models to look up to but it did not put her off her dream job.

She said gender should not be a barrier to a Defence career or in any other role.

“I think just through history it has been subconsciously programmed into us all, the types of roles men and women might go on to do.

“We are seeing more gender crossover in roles, but I think it is important to take the gender out of it and just encourage anyone to go and do what they want to do,” she said.

She said she would encourage any young woman wanting to become a pilot to think about a career in the Defence Force.

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