Flight Lieutenant Ben Young’s team deployed to the Transportable Air Operations Tower at Bairnsdale Airport in early January at short after the Australian Defence Force was called to support Victorian State Emergency Services to fight bushfires and the provide community aid.

Flight Lieutenant Young works with a small team of air traffic controllers from No. 44 Wing, to provide an airfield flight information service for civilian and military aircraft.

“We’re making sure their situational awareness coming in and out of the aerodrome is safe and efficient, because it has been getting quite busy now with the increased effort,” Flight Lieutenant Young said.  

“It’s a great feeling to come and actually do what we train for. The day-to-day air traffic services is our job but the reason why we wear the uniform is to get out here and help when Defence is called upon.”

Significant fluctuations in weather had an adverse effect on flying conditions across much of the affected area during the past week, making the Transportable Air Operations Tower a critical component for the continued emergency efforts in Gippsland.

The service that Flight Lieutenant Young and his colleagues provide from Bairnsdale Airport has improved the situation for pilots operating in the area and allowed for sustained flying operations in during challenging conditions.

“We’ve already had pilots say to us that what we’re providing is a fantastic service and it’s really helped the way they’ve been able to operate in and out of Bairnsdale,” Flight Lieutenant Young said.

“It’s a great feeling to come and actually do what we train for. The day-to-day air traffic services is our job but the reason why we wear the uniform is to get out here and help when Defence is called upon.”