Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW) is a global aviation awareness week for girls of all ages observed to mark the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot licence. We caught up with Alina Hamblyn, DEECA's Manager of Aviation Services.

Alina Hamblyn is the manager of aviation services at DEECA. The unit works across emergency service fire agencies to uphold safety standards, deliver training, procure aircraft, and manage aircraft infrastructures and airbases, and make sure Victoria has the aerial capability it needs for firefighting, intelligence gathering and land management.

Late last year, she and her team attended the launch of Victoria’s Aerial Firefighting capability for the 2023/24 Fire Season at the DEECA managed Avalon Large Air Tanker Base.

"This is when the aviation (services) team were able to come and see all the aircraft.

You see them fly in. The media, the commissioner. It feels like a bit of a pat on the back – that this is what you’ve delivered.

Not many people know the role we [DEECA] play. It’s just another way Victoria fights bushfires, but for us, that was the moment where you’re like, ‘Wow. This is what I am a part of."

Shifting gears

Like many others in the aviation industry, Alina’s life was turned upside down by the pandemic.

Alina Hamblyn inside Large Air Tanker

"I welcomed the last flight into Melbourne after our international borders were closed at the start of the pandemic. I was the last one. I turned off the lights," she said.

With uncertainty about when she might be able to return, she decided to join Victoria’s public service.

It [aviation] was a highly regulated environment, so when it [the pandemic] happened, I was able to step in with some really transferrable skills.

To begin she mostly held pandemic roles, including as a deputy commander with responsibility for land, sea and air border closures, but she also worked in compliance, testing and engagement.

Then – in late 2022 – Alina happened upon the opportunity to join the aviation services unit.

I had no idea this it existed until I saw the job ad.

It was made for me.

Firefighting is such a big part of the Victorian landscape, there is so much that goes on to keep Victoria safe.

And it’s not just the fire season. There are planned burns, floods, invasive species management. There’s always something going on."

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week

This week (4 to 10 March 2024) marks Women of Aviation Worldwide Week. It commemorates the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot licence, issued to Raymonde de Laroche in 1910.

Alina says she is an absolute cheerleader for women getting into aviation.

"We as a sector need to promote it that women can do this. Anyone can do this.

"I didn’t know it was for me until I was in it. I started as an HR manager at a Middle Eastern Arline. There was nothing in my history to say I would have a career in aviation, but here I am. I love it."

She says she can see change coming through slowly, and that the focus is there.

"We are working hard for that balance.

There are so many roles. You can be a pilot or a mechanic or an engineer. You can mix retardant.

You don’t need to be passionate about aircraft. It helps, but you can learn."

Alina Hamblyn inside Large Air Tanker

Alina Hamblyn (above) inside one of Victoria's Large Air Tankers (below).

Large Air Tanker at Avalon