Seeking a path to aeronautical engineering led Flying Officer Jena Scott to a career in the Air Force. She has progressed her career by taking on a number of roles and recently topped the challenging General Engineering Officer Training course.
Joining Air Cadets during high school was the catalyst for Flying Officer (FGOFF) Scott to consider a career in the Air Force, but before enlisting, she completed a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Canterbury.
“Maths and science were my strong suit – at school they were the areas I excelled at and found interesting, and I looked toward engineering due to its focus on logic and problem solving.
“I was interested in aeronautical engineering because it was a bit different, it was something that was a challenge and it seemed more interesting to work on planes than it did to work on anything on the ground. It is a field where there are a lot of opportunities.”
The opportunities presented themselves after FGOFF Scott finished the Initial Officer Training Course and moved to Base Auckland to the Maintenance Support Squadron, where she worked alongside flight commanders and technicians.
She consolidated her training for the next two years doing structural engineering on all the Air Force fleets, mostly designing repairs for the P-3K2 Orion and the C-130 Hercules.
“The technicians would come to us when they had damage they needed to repair that weren’t covered in the technical publications, or had new modifications to design.
The work was challenging in that we used a number of tools to develop solutions, from engineering calculations and design principles, textbooks and manuals through to recommendations from the technicians based on previous experience,” she said.
For most of this year, the 25-year-old has tackled the demanding General Engineering Officer Training. The nine month course was extended a month thanks to the Covid lockdown, but she stayed focussed and topped the class, winning the prestigious WGCDR (rtd) John ‘Jack’ Hardy Memorial Trophy.
The award is presented to the Engineering Officer student who achieves the highest academic result over the duration of the course.
The seven modules making up the course covered a number of topics, including aerodynamics, aeronautical powerplant systems, electrical and avionics systems, weight and balance and aircraft structures.
“The last module was the fusion phase, which was definitely the most beneficial part of the course. It was two weeks of being an acting flight commander for a notional maintenance flight.
“We were given a chart of all the technicians in our teams and the airframes we worked on were Seasprites. Scenarios were put to us that would come up in that job, ranging from engineering issues on our aircraft to personnel issues within our teams, and we ran through those scenarios for two weeks,” she said.
One of the biggest advantages of joining the Air Force was the wide variety of roles available, FGOFF Scott said.
“If you go from university into a civil engineering or design role for example, you might design a very specific part of a building support time after time. Whereas almost any role that we go into as Engineering Officers, there is a mixture of engineering and personnel management, not to mention the wider duties of a military officer, which means you’re going to get something different every day.
“There are a huge variety of elements to the engineering trade itself, let alone the training opportunities and the travel opportunities.”
FGOFF Scott has just taken on a new role at Base Ohakea as the flight commander of the Armament and Safety and Surface Flight in the Maintenance Support Squadron.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It was a job that I applied for largely because it was a job that was completely different to my last job. I went from doing structural engineering where I was crunching numbers to solve engineering problems, and now I’m moving into a role where I’m managing a team which brings its own new set of challenges.”