A career above and below the ocean

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Helen Ward (author), ABIS James McDougall (photographer), CPL Nicci Freeman (photographer)

Petty Officer Aircrew Jarrod Nieuwendaal, onboard the MRH 90 Taipan Multi-Role Helicopter, during the Australian International Airshow, Avalon, Victoria. (photo: ABIS James McDougall)
Petty Officer Aircrew Jarrod Nieuwendaal, onboard the MRH 90 Taipan Multi-Role Helicopter, during the Australian International Airshow, Avalon, Victoria.

He first joined as a Hydrographic Systems Operator, undertaking complex mapping of the ocean floor.

He then volunteered to become aircrew, now flying high above the waves and is responsible for loading helicopters and its winching operations.

This has brought him down to the Australian International Airshow at Avalon, Victoria, where he is currently helping to showcase a MRH-90 Taipan maritime support helicopter.

“I love coming to the Airshow, especially when we get to showcase a great helicopter like the Taipan. Everyone is very keen to know about the new helicopters and they have so many questions it keeps me busy all day.”

Petty Officer Nieuwendaal is part of 808 Squadron who will supply aircraft for the brand new Canberra class amphibious assault ships, also known as the Land Helicopter Dock, being built just up the road from Avalon at the Williamstown Dockyard in Melbourne.

When asked what is the best part of his job Petty Officer Nieuwendaal admits it has to be the travel.

“I have worked in the United Kingdom for four years, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Hawaii, Turkey and all through the Middle East," he said.

“In the United Kingdom I was part of the British Commando Helicopter Force, who are known as the ‘junglies’ and we did three tours of Afghanistan.”

“Although I have travelled all over the world, I think the best country is Australia and what better job could you have than flying over such a great place." 

Navy has a contingent of 40 personnel at Avalon this year and will be displaying the Taipan, the MH-60R Seahawk Romeo maritime combat helicopter and the AS350BA Squirrel helicopter from squadrons based at the Fleet Air Arm in Nowra.