Dunedin woman’s career takes off

Lieutenant Jo Brook, from Dunedin, is New Zealand’s first female navy pilot. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND...
Lieutenant Jo Brook, from Dunedin, is New Zealand’s first female navy pilot. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE
Jo Brook has flown all the way from Dunedin into the history books.

The 27-year-old Dunedin woman has just graduated as New Zealand’s first female navy helicopter pilot, an achievement she hopes will inspire other young women to consider a career in the Defence Force.

But joining the Royal New Zealand Navy was not always on the cards.

She initially studied law at the University of Otago, but two years in, she knew it was not for her.

"I always thought if you did well academically, that was the path you had to take," she said.

"It was leading me down a path to an office-type job ... That didn’t excite me at all."

She enlisted in the navy at age 20, and has not looked back.

After working on ships for a while, she decided she wanted to change roles.

"I just really fell in love with the idea of becoming a helicopter pilot."

She loves the challenge of flying, the mental capacity needed to adapt to different situations.

She still found it surreal that she was the first woman to become a navy pilot.

"It’s just kind of starting to sink in now."

When she was growing up, there were not many women portrayed in military roles in the media and on television, and she thought many young women did not consider it to be a career path.

She hoped her graduation would encourage other women to give it a go.

"The navy could do with a few more female pilots, and I’d certainly like a few more to keep me company."

The Royal New Zealand Air Force encouraged school-aged girls to consider aviation careers with its 4-year-old School to Skies (S2S) programme.

Squadron-leader Rebecca Magdalinos said it was not about recruitment, rather, it was giving girls opportunities to meet as many role models as possible.

“They can then ... make informed decisions when they’re deciding on their pathways."

Applications for S2S 2021 open in the first week of February.

daisy.hudson@odt.co.nz

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