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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The 2020 lockdown further unravelled her mental state, leading to a harrowing episode in August where she attempted to take her own life with an overdose. Just like anything in our body that breaks, with time, rest and the right people to help you recover, we can mend our broken brains. Liz hopes her book encourages people to join the RAF as she had an "awesome" career and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

During this month, Airfix is proud to highlight some key contributions of women throughout history, as part of an exciting campaign celebrating Women’s History Month, March 2023. Liz turned to writing both poetry and her autobiography following a tough battle with PTSD years after leaving the service, in the hope it may help others with their mental health. However, she also wants people who read her book to learn from her sobering, life-changing experience. I am so very grateful to Lady Louise Vaughan who entrusted me with the responsibility to be a table host.This information and any feedback I provide may be used to inform product decisions and to notify me about product updates. A great insight to the life of a crewman on the mighty Chinook but more importantly the impact of war on mental health (and Covid) Kudos to the author for writing this and putting herself out there. Then in 2002, we were over there doing some tasking and I said, ‘can we go back and take the aircraft in the school? Her survival from both the battles in foreign lands and in her own head led her to begin telling her story, in the hope she can help others win their wars.

While deployed, Liz served on the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) – a group of service personnel who saved countless lives in Helmand Province throughout the conflict in Afghanistan. The self-styled crew ‘chick’ has recently published her memoir about her time serving on the Royal Air Force’s Chinook helicopter.Now hired as a motivational speaker, Liz shares how she has overcome her struggles with mental health and the ins and outs of her military career.

She survived and went into the Veterans Mental Health care system to help her deal with her demons and finally lay the images she had seen on the battlefield to rest. She helped me unravel why I was feeling the way I was, and was brilliant at aiding me to find and understand myself again. You learn to fly on a little helicopter, which is the Griffon (training helicopter) and then you get posted to whichever helicopter type you want to go on, and for me, that was always the Chinook. McConaghy watched her crewmate plunge towards the open central hatch, saved only by a safety harness around his waist attached to the airframe.As an RAF Veteran, I bring unique insights into team empowerment, overcoming adversity, decision-making, and talent retention. 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. Ms McConaghy spent the next two years being supported by mental health charities such as Combat Stress and Help for Heroes during which time she started a journal that eventually became her book, Chinook Crew Chick: Highs and Lows of Forces Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Force Crewmember. No one needs little Liz crying down the phone going ‘I think I’ve got PTSD, I think I’m coming apart. H-style air ambulance service in which a Chinook was on constant readiness at Bastion to fly to the middle of the battlefield and rescue seriously wounded soldiers.

The author's ability to convey the depth of these experiences with sensitivity and authenticity is truly commendable.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”. The book is peppered with riveting anecdotes, from daring rescue missions to heartwarming interactions with fellow crew members. But McConaghy is pragmatic, explaining that in her experience, the men have never treated her or the only other female on her squadron any differently. I only found out years later when I was chatting to someone in the crew room on the squadron, like 10 years later they actually never went into Police Barracks, it was really rare because the landing site there is really small, and it meant they had to clear the whole car park. She shares her struggles with determination, resilience, and a touch of humour, defying stereotypes and proving that gender should never be a barrier to pursuing one's dreams.



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