Having an interest in aircraft and a desire to travel the world would lead many people to taking off in an aviation career with a commercial airline.

But not Wendy Horder.

She set her sights on becoming an air traffic controller in the Australian Defence Force. At the time, the Air Force didn't have female pilots.

The Air Force accepted her as a trainee air traffic controller in 1979 and, during her early career, she spent time in various control towers on the eastern seaboard.

Forty years later, now Group Captain Horder has deployed to East Timor, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.

With skills in international relations and training development, Group Captain Horder has represented Australia in multi-agency teams throughout Europe, the United States, Africa and the Pacific.

"In 1988 I was on leave without pay in Thailand accompanying my husband on his posting and was recalled to duty to work as an assistant to the Defence Attaché in the Australian Embassy in Bangkok," Group Captain Horder said.

"That experience was the first in a number of opportunities I had to serve in diplomatic roles.

"Most recently, while posted as defence adviser to the Australian High Commission in Malaysia, I was part of the 60th anniversary of the RAAF at Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth − a very memorable time.

"As defence adviser for the South West Pacific based in Honiara in the Solomon Islands, I led the Pacific Patrol Program in the Solomon Islands, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

"It was a steep learning curve for me having to learn all about the boats.

"In between, I have had an exciting and rewarding career, having served at Officer Training School, been the commanding officer of HQ 396 Combat Support Wing and attending the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College before returning to be base commander RAAF Base Darwin."

Growing up in a small Upper Hunter town in NSW was not an impediment to an exemplary career shared with her husband and four children.

You can watch Group Captain Horder's story here.

Planning is underway for the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force on March 31 next year. 

For further details, visit: www.airforce.gov.au/100.