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Gap year leads to towering achievements

Hailing from Bundaberg, Queensland, Flight Lieutenant Paige Starwick is an accomplished air traffic controller working for the Australian Defence Force at Darwin International Airport.

Presently studying a Bachelor of Economics degree, Flight Lieutenant Starwick is an approach (radar) controller and a keen devotee of the F45 fitness training regime. She’s also played AFL and touch football socially and in representative teams.

“I am the first member of my family to join the ADF,” Flight Lieutenant Starwick said.

“I saw a news article on the gap year program when I was in senior year and decided to apply for it. I was successful and completed the program in 2009.

“After I finished the gap year, I studied for a few years but ultimately missed the lifestyle, camaraderie and traditions associated with being in the Royal Australian Air Force and decided to rejoin as an air traffic controller.

“I completed the basic air traffic control course in 2013 and was posted to RAAF Base Williamtown for four years.

“There I gained my tower controller, training and supervisor endorsements and completed all of my air traffic control post-graduate courses.

“In 2018 I posted to Darwin as I wanted to learn to control busy civilian aircraft traffic to round out the experience I gained with fast jet military aircraft in Williamtown.”

In January 2019, Flight Lieutenant Starwick was deployed to the Middle East in an operations role working with the C-130J Hercules detachment.

Since returning to Darwin, she has taken on training roles requiring her to train other air traffic controllers on Darwin operations.

“I am currently the unit aviation safety officer responsible for investigating safety events and recommending changes to procedures in order to minimise risk and maximise safety,” Flight Lieutenant Starwick said.

“As we commemorate the formation of the RAAF 100 years ago, I feel that as an organisation, we have a lot to be proud of.

“Not only have we evolved to become an advanced, professional future force, but we have also created a culture which promotes diversity in representation and inclusion.”

With people a strong focus of the Air Force Centenary, throughout 2020 and 2021 exceptional members who have contributed to the Air Force will be featured on and Flight Lieutenant Starwick is a fine example of the thousands of people who make up our Air Force.

Planning is underway for the commemoration of the Royal Australian Air Force’s formation in March 1921 and further information may be obtained at

You can watch Flight Lieutenant Starwick’s story here.

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