Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember

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Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember

Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember

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But it goes both ways, and her male crew mates would often seek her assistance too, such as when her smaller hands were more useful for checking out an oil filter. She was also the only female member of the crew on the iconic Chinook helicopter team for four years. One of the most remarkable aspects of "Chinook Crew 'Chick'" is the author's ability to convey the challenges she faced as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field. The self-styled crew ‘chick’ has recently published her memoir about her time serving on the Royal Air Force’s Chinook helicopter.

Our roster includes athletes, psychologists, celebrities and more, to ensure that audiences of all demographics receive tailored, impactful mental health guidance. The first part of the book covers her training, the deployments, her love affair with the Chinook and the unique role she had, often being the only female in the room. My career included two deployments to Iraq and an impressive ten to Helmand, Afghanistan, where I gained a personal and insightful perspective on the harsh realities of war. Remember, we're all on this journey together, and a supportive community can make all the difference.When I left hospital [after the suicide attempt] I had that total euphoric feeling you don’t often get. It was only then that I was able to come to terms with the fact that, I’m a veteran and I’m a PTSD survivor. Just seconds from smashing into the ground, the co-pilot managed to regain control and the Chinook soared into the sky. But such support was only made available during her last three years of service, towards the end of the allied involvement in Afghanistan. When asked what she missed most about the military, McConaghy placed an emphasis on “the people, the banter, the chats” but also said she misses “the smell of the aircraft”.

It's like having a personal scorecard – a simple yet powerful tool that allows us to gauge where we are and take steps to uplift ourselves. Having had the book come out [all her mental health challenges are] now completely out in the world. She spent days on end in her small flat in Basingstoke, Hants, binge-eating, getting up in the middle of the night, and looking online for news of soldiers she had worked with.

If you’re struggling and for you, if you’re always saying the number 3 for a few days in a row, [and] you’re like ‘this isn’t good’, maybe speak to someone. When we landed, the engineers actually dug it out of the other side of the aircraft and gave it to me. Around 1500 kids came and looked around that day, and my little brother was still at school, he got to look around, but the best bit was the teachers that had said to me that ‘you’ll never amount to anything if you don’t get a degree’ are suddenly asking me is they can look around the Chinook. Yet, here I am, standing strong, having navigated the Veterans' Mental Health care system, confronted my demons, and sought healing. During the interrogation that followed, a man in a balaclava screamed so hard that some saliva exploded from his mouth and landed on her chest.

Sheila Hancock [asked], ‘are you an author my dear’ and I said ‘no, no I’m not an author, I’m a Chinook Crewman,’ even though I’ve been [away] for a year and a half at this point. But I internalised that pressure; I didn’t wanna be that Liz, crying in the back of the tent or the last one at the fitness test. Commenting on this year's Women in Defence awards and Ms McConaghy's win, Alidad Moghaddam, CEO of Defence Discount Service said: "Liz's journey resonated deeply with us at Defence Discount Service. I was sat in the foyer of the Careers office and there was a magazine on the table with a guy hanging out the side of a helicopter on what I thought was a rope.

They’ll stop something else working and they’ll fall out the sky, whereas for us, we’re pretty okay. Candidly speaking about her suicide attempt, she emphasises the importance of looking after mental health and urges audience members to seek professional help. It was quite strange because I never really had an interest until my brother joined, at school I wasn’t in the cadets and it’s interesting I joined the RAF because flying wasn’t the reason I was inspired to do what I do, making a difference was. My name is Liz McConaghy, and my journey has been quite the rollercoaster – from soaring high in the Royal Air Force Chinook Fleet to facing the deepest valleys of life.

So you can take a lot around you, a lot of battle damage and as long as the engines are still running and you are still going, then you’re okay. LIZ MCCONAGHY is an ex-RAF Chinook crewmember who has deployed worldwide with the CH47 fleet, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. but I know from messages I get daily, that it’s not a single day with a label that people feel depressed on, it can happen anytime, even when life is ‘supposed’ to be great.I was always really worried that someone would have to take my bullet, you feel like if you don’t go, what if something happens and I’m meant to be there and I’m not? The unmistakable thud of a dozen rotor blades from the two RAF Chinooks echoed across the desert and poppy fields as the helicopters barrelled into hostile territory. Liz McConaghy, originally from Newtownards, holds the accolade of longest-serving female on the Chinook wing and also the youngest aircrew member ever deployed to Iraq.



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