Wing Commander Linda Corbould OAM was the first woman to command a Royal Australian Air Force flying squadron.
While she has since retired her wings and settled down in Tasmania, W Cdr Corbould continues to be involved in the military.
As a reserve officer, she took up a role with the Australian Air Force Cadets to inspire young people to pursue leadership, opportunities, and consider their future careers.
In her spare time, W Cdr Corbould trains guide dogs.
Sara is her current guide dog in training.
“She goes everywhere with me.”
It’s been close to a decade since W Cdr Corbould has been at the helm of an aeroplane.
She was a frequent flyer during her career, which spanned more than 25 years with the Royal Australian Air Force.
She was the mission commander for the first Hercules aeroplane trip into Baghdad in 2003.
The mission involved the navy, army and air force in a bid to fly medical supplies into the Middle East.
“I used to be in the permanent airforce and one of the last jobs I did was fly ...the mighty C-17 Globemaster,” W Cdr Corbould said.
“They’re the biggest military cargo aeroplane in the airforce.”
It was large enough to fit up to three Black Hawk helicopters in the cargo bay, she said.
She was selected to be the first commanding officer of the C-17 squadron in 2006.
It was her crew, with W Cdr Corbould at the helm, that flew the first Boeing C-17 Globemaster to Australia from California.
“When we flew the first one back from America, we flew from Hawaii to Canberra in one go.”
I used to be in the permanent airforce and one of the last jobs I did was fly ...the mighty C-17 Globemaster. They’re the biggest military cargo aeroplane in the airforce.Wing commander Linda Corbould OAM
It took about 11 hours with an empty cargo hold, flying close to 500 kilometres an hour at high altitude.
Often people looked at the enormous plane and thought it would be slow and cumbersome in the air, she said.
But in reality it was very responsive and light, capable of landing on short dirt airstrips and on international runways, W Cdr Corbould said.
“It’s a lovely aeroplane to fly.”
The cargo plane usually was brought in to deliver humanitarian aid and supplies for military operations.
She was able to revisit the aeroplane with the Boeing C-17 Globemaster touched down in Launceston on February 21.
It was the first time the aircraft ever landed in Northern Tasmania.
While it marked one of the pinnacles of her career with RAAF as a wing commander, it also signified how far she and the air force had come.
The role required a lot of experience as a pilot before undertaking policy work as well.
When she first joined RAAF at age 18, she dreamt of flying but it didn’t look like it would become a reality.
Women were not allowed to become pilots in 1981.
Her recruitment officers “pretty much laughed at me” when she told them her plans.
W Cdr Corbould started out as an air traffic controller, travelling the country for her work.
By the mid 1980s, the rules were more lenient and women could fly training and some non-combat missions.
She became one of the first female pilots after completing more than a year.
It was not an easy path with rigorous training, but W Cdr Corbould said she was finally able to do what she remembered being inspired to pursue as a young child at a military flying display.
“You have to work hard. Most of the people who fly really really love it so they don’t find it hard work. It’s being committed to it and believing in yourself that you can do it.”
It’s been almost 10 years since her last flight in a Globemaster.
“We had an all-girl crew and we flew down the Gold Coast on a training flight and then back to Amberly.”
The number of women in the airforce was growing, although she hoped more would consider joining.
“Now women in the military can do every job, there’s nothing really closed to them.”
While she hasn’t ruled out returning to the air, W Cdr Corbould said she was content with how she had shaped her career. Supporting her family was now her focus.
“I’ve got to do more than I could ever have dreamed of.”
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster will fly over Agfest, landing at Launceston Airport on Thursday morning for about 24 hours.