816 Squadron visits Callala Public School

Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), LSIS Yuri Ramsey (photographer)

Location(s): Callala Bay, NSW

Topic(s): 816 Squadron, Community Engagement

Petty Officer Aircrewman Jason Wickman talks to Callala Public School students about the Navy's Seahawk helicopter. (photo: LSIS Yuri Ramsey)
Petty Officer Aircrewman Jason Wickman talks to Callala Public School students about the Navy's Seahawk helicopter.

Students from Callala Public School had an extra exciting recess when a Seahawk helicopter and crew from 816 Squadron, visited their school recently.

The crew was in the area conducting currency training when it made a two hour stop at the school, where it worked hard to ensure every child was given a tour of the aircraft and the much sought after opportunity to sit in the pilot's seat.

CMDR Cliff Kyle said the pupils were very eager to learn more about the Seahawk and the Royal Australian Navy.

“I think the children especially enjoyed watching the aircraft landing and take-off. It gave them a more intimate and immediate understanding of the power and size of the aircraft.”

Shoalhaven children are all very familiar with the sight of helicopters from HMAS Albatross flying overhead but don't often have the chance to get quite so close to one. CMDR Kyle said this made the visit a valuable one.

“The benefit of these types of visits is immeasurable and for many of these kids that see the aircraft buzzing around the skies, and also the people in uniform in the local area, it brings an appreciation of what the Navy does and builds the relationships between the school, the broader community and the Navy.”

“It has a lasting impact when they will no doubt go home and tell their mums, dads, brothers and sisters about the aircraft they saw at school today or when the next see an aircraft and can recall some of the facts they learnt.

This positive message can only aid in raising the profile of Navy in the community.”

It wasn't all 'just for fun' for the pupils, as many were required to prepare a presentation on the helicopter.

“There were lots of thought provoking questions from the older kids”, CMDR Kyle said.

“Questions like “What made you join the Navy?” and “Why is this aircraft called a Seahawk?” I certainly look forward to hearing about the presentation from my daughter who attends kindergarten at the school,” he said.

For CMDR Kyle, there was also the personal reward of showing his children some of what his job involves. “The highlight for me was no doubt seeing my two daughters, who ran out to meet me after the aircraft had landed and shut down, shouting “Daddy, Daddy you came in the helicopter.” It's certainly something I won't forget.”

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20131198.