One Giant Leap Australia
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Lieutenant Kate Cox’s interest in aviation began at a young age. She commenced flight training from the Gold Coast airport at the age of 15 – taking lessons whenever she could scrape enough money together from various casual jobs that she would fit in around schoolwork. After finding flight training too expensive as a teenager, Kate deferred an aviation career and completed a Bachelor of International Business. Later, she returned to her true calling and began an Aerospace Engineering degree as a member of the Royal Australian Navy.
Being in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) gave Kate free tertiary education, a salary and a guaranteed job at the end of the degree. This made things a lot easier for Kate as she didn’t have to work as well as study. And job security was a very important benefit of a career in the ADF.
As part of the Engineering degree, Kate had to do work experience in an engineering organisation. She decided to contact several European companies, and was accepted by GKN Aerospace based in Bristol, UK. A highlight included a tour of the Airbus assembly facility in Toulouse, France. Kate found it awe-inspiring – like a huge jigsaw puzzle for manufacturing aircraft!
For Kate, one of the best aspects of being an Aviation Engineer in the Navy is that she changes her position every two-three years, but has the stability of remaining with the same employer.
This has given her the opportunity to identify particular areas of interest, develop her skill sets and specialise in particular fields.
In the nine years since graduating, Kate has worked in operational Aviation squadrons and ships as well as the Defence Aviation Safety Authority and Project Offices. She has conducted safety audits of squadrons and aboard Navy ships, reviewed designs, conducted safety investigations, managed a maintenance crew and created airworthiness management plans. Some ‘perks’ have included military helicopter rides, international travel and operations experience, playing interstate sport (and getting paid for it!) in addition to a flight with the Roulettes – the Air Force aerobatic team.
Kate has also received support from the ADF in her own ventures, including an international hiking challenge, participating in Space Camp in the USA) and weekly French language classes at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Her current role is engineering support for enhancing Navy’s Unmanned Aviation Systems (UAS) capabilities. Kate hopes to participate in a commercial space flight by 2030!