Flying Officer Kaitlyn Lyons distinctly remembers the Concorde passenger airliner - with its long pointed nose and bullet-like airframe streamlined for supersonic flight - that flew over her primary school in England.
Inspired to become a pilot, she was awarded a Powered Flying Scholarship by the Australian Air Force Cadets after returning to Brisbane and joined the Aviation learning program at Indooroopilly State High School.
"I really wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid," Flying Officer Lyons said.
"I got private flying lessons through cadets and loved the aviation community at the flying school, so I applied to join the Air Force while I was at school.
"It was Defence Force Recruiting that suggested I look into engineering."
Back at school, one of Flying Officer Lyons' mathematics teachers offered to take a class of students to an engineering day at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and from then on, Flying Officer Lyons knew she wanted to be an engineer.
"It was so cool," Flying Officer Lyons said.
"I decided that I wanted to study engineering at QUT."
Never losing sight of her Air Force dream, Flying Officer Lyons applied for the Air Force’s Undergraduate Sponsorship Scheme during the first year of her Bachelor of Engineering degree.
"They were really supportive," she said.
"I started out studying electrical engineering, but I got to the point where I was studying power engineering and I thought 'I can’t do this with my life', and Defence approved for me to switch to mechatronics engineering so I could major in robotics and minor in programming."
Admitting her current role as Officer in Charge of Team Echo at No. 1 Combat Communication Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley doesn't involve as much engineering as she expected it to, Flying Officer Lyons says she's enjoying the personnel management aspect of her job while still being able to fall back on the skills she acquired during her years of engineering study at QUT.
"Because I studied engineering, I can understand what my team members are saying when they're talking about network and cyber vulnerabilities - for the most part, anyway," Flying Officer Lyons said.
Flying Officer Lyons is excited about what lies ahead for her ADF career.
She's added an overseas posting to her bucket list as well as plans to study at the Defence Force School of Languages to fuel her love of languages and learning about other cultures.
"In the ADF, you feel like you're part of a community of open, caring and accepting people," she said.
"You train for real-life situations and develop skills that can make a big difference, and you get to see the effect of that in the real world, which is pretty amazing."
The Air Force Undergraduate Scheme sponsors university undergraduate students to undertake their degrees before joining the Air Force as officers.