Growing up in Drysdale, Victoria, Wing Commander Samantha Freebairn led an active life with a passion for flying. 

Wing Commander Freebairn is deputy director Aviation Operations within Cadet Branch, following a successful role as a pilot flying the iconic C-17A Globemaster III aircraft. 

Wing Commander Freebairn’s day-to-day work is to ensure flying activities conducted by the Australian Air Force Cadets are safe, fun and accessible. 

“We are working on programs for Unmanned Aerial Systems (Remotely Piloted Aerial System drones, drone racing, Virtual Reality, 3D printing for model aircraft and drones), and continuing to support and expand Powered and Glider flying experiences and flying training,” Wing Commander Freebairn said. 

Wing Commander Freebairn’s fascination for flying began at an early age. 

“It started from about nine after a Qantas flight where kids were allowed to visit the flight deck,” she said. 

“I started learning to fly when I was 15 and worked two part-time jobs to pay for my lessons.

“I went solo before I could even drive a car.”

In 2014, Wing Commander Freebairn won the Queensland Telstra Business Women’s Award in business innovation for her Graduate Pilot Scheme, which incentivises military aviation to women who had never previously considered it. 

This successfully doubled women pilot numbers in the Air Force in two years after numbers had remained stagnant for 30 years.

I have flown combat missions into war zones, humanitarian aid into areas impacted by disaster, evacuated people from dangerous locations and been challenged by the work and inspired by those I work with. 

“My Air Force journey is one that has allowed me to travel the world,” Wing Commander Freebairn said. 

“I have flown combat missions into war zones, humanitarian aid into areas impacted by disaster, evacuated people from dangerous locations and been challenged by the work and inspired by those I work with. 

“Flying as part of an all women C-17A crew in December 2008 was a milestone for the Air Force at the time and a really fun flight.

“There are so many people who have worked tirelessly then, now and always will to make the Air Force what it is today and will be as a future force. 

“The phrase ‘on the shoulders of giants’ is how I feel about being part of the Air Force’s first 100 years. 

Wing Commander Freebairn eagerly looks to the future. 

“The systems, technology and opportunities will be even more profound than what I have known,” she said. 

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 www.airforce.gov.au/100 

Wing Commander Freebairn 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. 

You can view Wing Commander Freebairn's story here.

Further information is available at www.airforce.gov.au/100.