Rhiannon’s flying support to bushfire operations

Published on LCDR Helen Ward (author), ABIS Leo Baumgartner (photographer)

Location(s): RAAF Base, Williamtown, NSW

Topic(s): 723 Squadron, EC-135T2, Bushfires

Royal Australian Navy Pilot Lieutenant Rhiannon Thompson on the flight line at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, Newcastle, during the Australian Defence Force support to the firefighting efforts in New South Wales and Queensland. (photo: ABIS Leo Baumgartner)
Royal Australian Navy Pilot Lieutenant Rhiannon Thompson on the flight line at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, Newcastle, during the Australian Defence Force support to the firefighting efforts in New South Wales and Queensland.

Royal Australian Navy Pilot Lieutenant Rhiannon Thompson on the flight line at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, Newcastle, during the Australian Defence Force support to the firefighting efforts in New South Wales and Queensland.

Royal Australian Navy Pilot Lieutenant Rhiannon Thompson on the flight line at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, Newcastle, during the Australian Defence Force support to the firefighting efforts in New South Wales and Queensland.

Royal Australian Navy pilot Lieutenant Rhiannon Thompson has come a long way from her school days at Perth Modern School to support firefighting efforts during the catastrophic bushfires across New South Wales in November.

Two EC-135 helicopters from 723 Squadron have been flying daily in support of the NSW Rural Fire Service.

“This is my first operational deployment and I was looking forward to applying all the basics from my training,” Lieutenant Thompson said

“Initially the mission can appear to be quite daunting but when you break it down against all the steps we practice in training it is just another flight.”

“I am excited to be helping out and proud to be working with our emergency services to assist fellow Australians.”

Lieutenant Thompson has successfully completed extensive training since joining the Navy in 2016 at locations across the nation including Jervis Bay and Tamworth in New South Wales, and back to Western Australia for flying training at the Royal Australian Air Force Base Pearce.

Her parents Peter and Bev still live in the Perth suburb of Yokine where she grew up and her brother Shaun is an engineer who moved out to be just around the corner.

The Australian Defence Force has been working with emergency services to assist with firefighting efforts in NSW and Queensland since last Friday 8 November 2019.

Additionally, the ADF is providing transport support to the firefighting effort and is postured to provide other capabilities such as aviation, logistics, engineering and accommodation support.