Refuelling on nanna’s cookies

Published on LCDR Helen Ward (author), CPL Nicci Freeman (photographer)

Lieutenant Ryan Cross, from 808 Squadron, HMAS Albatross, stands with the MRH90 helicopter at the Australian International Airshow, Avalon, Victoria.
  (photo: CPL Nicci Freeman)
Lieutenant Ryan Cross, from 808 Squadron, HMAS Albatross, stands with the MRH90 helicopter at the Australian International Airshow, Avalon, Victoria.

Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Cross recently made a scheduled stop in Merimbula, to refuel his MRH-90 Taipan maritime support helicopter, on the way to Avalon for the Australian International Airshow.

He was pleasantly surprised when his nanna, Ms Norma McDonald, turned up with a freshly baked batch of her homemade chocolate chip cookies to refuel the crew too.

Lieutenant Cross is at Avalon, Victoria, for the Australian International Airshow helping to showcase Navy’s maritime support helicopter.

“I am really looking forward to the weekend when there will be large crowds of people wanting to know about the Navy and the Taipan,” he said.

Lieutenant Cross was interested in becoming a pilot from early in his childhood, influenced by movies like Top Gun and airshows at HMAS Albatross in Nowra.

“I was fortunate to do Year 10 work experience with the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm which included a flight in a Sea King helicopter, and then I was hooked,” he said.

It seems very appropriate now that Lieutenant Cross is flying the MHR-90 Taipan as they replaced the fleet of Sea King helicopters.

“When I didn’t get the marks I needed to join straight from school, I went to uni for a while in Wollongong to study Physics. I kept trying and it eventually paid off, I was accepted as a pilot.”

After his basic training, Lieutenant Cross flew in the AS350BA Squirrel helicopter, which are also on show at Avalon for the Australian International Airshow.  The squirrels will be flying in a helicopter pair formation display.

Lieutenant Cross’s father, Lee Cross, and his grandparents, Norma and Keith McDonald, all still live in Merimbula where he grew up.

Navy has a contingent of 40 personnel at Avalon this year and will be displaying the Romeo, the MRH-90 Taipan maritime support helicopter and the AS350BA Squirrel helicopter from squadrons based at the Fleet Air Arm in Nowra.