Introducing Mueller College’s Top Gun pilot, Alison Smith! Alison first demonstrated her interest in aviation while a student at Mueller between 2008 and 2016. In Year 11, she was able to conduct work experience at the Army Aviation Training Centre at Oakey. This led to a two-week course in Year 12 to test her aptitude to be a pilot. Alison passed with flying colours, confirming her desire to be a naval helicopter pilot.

After graduating from Mueller College in 2016, Alison joined the Royal Australian Navy. She initially spent 6 months at HMAS Cresswell Naval base completing her Officer training. She then spent 6 months at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, confirming her desire for a naval career. Part of finding her sea legs involved spending two months at sea on the Canberra Class Amphibious Assault Ship. Living on board a ship is a unique lifestyle, and Alison quickly adapted to what was required. This led to entry to the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in 2018, where her Bachelor of Arts degree included two majors: International and Political Studies, and Indonesian Studies.

In addition to a rigorous program of academic study and joint service military training, Alison embraced the many sporting opportunities available to her. She enjoyed rowing so much that she became the President of the ADFA Rowing Club, as well as playing field hockey. Alison was also a part of the ADFA Aviation group for students interested in a military aviation career. And she revelled in spending three months in Jakarta on a course to strengthen her Indonesian language skills. In 2021, Alison was invited to complete a further year of Honours for her degree. Her thesis combined both her majors, looking at climate security as it relates to Indonesia.

After graduating from ADFA, Sub-Lieutenant Smith was posted back to HMAS Albatross, Nowra, which is the Fleet Headquarters for Naval Aviation. Part of her posting included a six-week deployment to Headquarters in Sydney as part of Operation Covid Assist, which was an excellent experience working in a joint-service environment.

Sub-Lieutenant Smith was then posted to the Flying Training School in Sale, Victoria, to learn to be a pilot. Alison learned to fly on the Pilatus PC-21, an aircraft so advanced she explained it’s like learning to drive a car in a Ferrari. After going solo, the newly promoted Lieutenant Smith was sent to Perth to continue advanced flight training where she earned her wings. She is currently based at HMAS Albatross helping GAP year recruits settle into life in the Navy and will soon commence her helicopter conversion training.

She will ultimately become a pilot of the MH-60 Seahawk helicopter. This state-of-the-art aircraft can be deployed on numerous RAN surface vessels and can employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo. As a Seahawk pilot, Alison will play a vital role in protecting Australia’s coastline, as well as providing the capacity for search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.

What a phenomenal career path Alison has taken so far! Mueller is cheering you on and praying for safety and success in your future adventures in the sky.