First all-female team flies NH90 for Royal New Zealand Air Force
The milestone happened completely by chance
The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No. 3 Squadron has made history in military aviation by having the first all-female team to operate the Airbus NH90 in New Zealand.
Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Nicole Brooke, Flying Officer (FGOFF) Hayley Vincent and Flight Sergeant (F/S) Jen Hart are part of the all-female 3 Squadron crew of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Its fleet includes eight NH90 helicopters, which have been in service since 2015, and are used for Army battlefield support, search and rescue and amphibious operations.
The NH90 is able to execute the 3 Squadron’s missions, with its ample cabin, twin engine power output, tactical self-protection capability and a complete anti-icing system. “A key NH90 output is National Contingency (NATCON), where an aircraft and crew are on short notice to move, ready to react to any sort of domestic crisis or emergency event. This typically takes the form of a search and rescue, or domestic natural disaster response”, said FLTLT Brooke.
Women with wings
For 3 Squadron, the rotorcraft represents the milestone that FLTLT Brooke, FGOFF Vincent and F/S Hart make up the first all-female crew that flies the NH90 in New Zealand. The team was formed completely by chance though. “We were programmed to fly together almost accidently for a deployment on a mountain flying exercise: we were all very keen to head down for this and it was our friend and photographer Ned Dawson who put two and two together and realised this was probably the first female crew on the NH90 in New Zealand,” explained FGOFF Vincent.
This marks an important step for aviation and represents an incentive to consider all fleet members equally regardless of gender. FLTLT Brooke said: “I have been incredibly lucky to have a fantastic wings course and workplace that never treated me any different for being female.
“While I was at high school, which was all female, there was a large misunderstanding of the military and aviation. Today, in 3 Squadron, we are treated exactly the same as our male colleagues, and that goes a long way too.”
To conclude, she said: “I think there has been a shift in the aviation industry to showcase the role for both females and males. The job really sells itself; we just need to show women what the job actually is.”