It was a first for many of the children of Taminmin College when they saw a Royal Australian Navy helicopter land on their school oval on 5 September during Exercise KAKADU 2014.
Members from the Navy’s 808 Squadron, HMAS Coonawarra and a member of the Royal Australian Air Force’s 79 Squadron arrived in a MRH-90 helicopter to conduct the second community visit of the week, this time to the Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory.
Jan Arnott, Assistant Principal said it is the second time they have been visited by helicopter.
"There has been a big gap in between visits so it’s a whole new group of kids getting this opportunity,” she said.
“This visit aligns with our values program ‘The Reach’ so this has been an opportunity to promote the program.
"The kids who are here now to view the helicopter have been chosen for great work and behaviour, so it’s a reward for them.”
Pilot, Lieutenant Jack Wadey welcomed the children giving them a friendly warning before they were shown the aircraft.
“Please watch your head, don’t touch anything that looks like it shouldn’t be touched, because it probably shouldn’t be!” he said causing the group to laugh.
Justine Bennett, an 18 year old Year 12 student was one of the lucky ones to climb in, put on a helmet and have photos taken with the pilots.
“That was amazing. I didn’t realise how big these things are. This is the biggest helicopter I have ever seen. This is such a cool opportunity for us,” she said.
Taminmin College also runs a Special Education program for children with special needs. Majorie Saunders, a Special Education Support Officer said it was great for this group of children to have the same opportunity as the others.
“We have a diverse group here, with a combination of physical and intellectual disabilities,” she said.
The group received their own personalised briefing and tour, during which one of the young girls asked the pilots incredulously, pointing to the front of the aircraft “how on earth to you get in that thing? Through those little doors?”
Lieutenant Wadey agreed and proceeded to show the children through the aircraft as the other children had before.
Finally, summing up the experience for the Australian Defence Force personnel on the visit, Sergeant Helen McGuire said, “It is so nice to see the smiles on the faces of these kids and interact with them.
"They have so many good questions about the Australian Defence Force, its great to see and it is really rewarding for us.”