Career comes full circle.

Brigadier Fern Thompson jumped in the cockpit without hesitation to support her crews as they worked across the Christmas and New Year break to aid flood recovery efforts in Queensland.

“I’m a Commander, but I’m also a Chinook pilot so by employing myself in that profession I can stop people being recalled from leave and help to give them some respite,” BRIG Thompson said.

“It’s great to keep up my skills by flying with these young men and women who are at the sharp end of the profession, and I’ll keep flying as long as they’ll have me,” she said.

The CH-47F Chinook fleet has played an imperative role in the aftermath of Cyclone Jasper, evacuating vulnerable communities and delivering vital stores and equipment to isolated areas across Far North Queensland.

BRIG Thompson began her career at the Townsville-based 5th Aviation Regiment as a Blackhawk pilot in 1999 where she soon deployed on her first tour of East Timor.

And with the aviation brigade headquarters relocated to Townsville, BRIG Thompson’s career has come full circle, but continues her history of hitting the ground running (or flying).

“When I first posted into the 5th Aviation Regiment I deployed to East Timor around two weeks after I arrived, so each time I arrive at 5AVN we seem to deploy not long after,” she said.

Despite time away on operations and postings across the country, BRIG Thompson said there’s something about North Queensland’s Townsville that just feels like home after so many years.

“It’s like I’m coming home to the north of Queensland.”

“I’m very privileged to command, to be given such responsibility and such opportunity,” she said.

Credit LSIS Jarrod Mulvihill

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