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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I highly recommend this book, which will make you laugh, cry, and have moments of anger and despair, but it's never boring. She descended into despair having left the RAF and realized she had lost her sense of purpose, having been integral to the mission in Afghanistan, including those medical rescue flights. When we landed, the engineers actually dug it out of the other side of the aircraft and gave it to me.

I am so very grateful to Lady Louise Vaughan who entrusted me with the responsibility to be a table host. The biggest honour of all her duties, however, was serving on the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT), or the flying ambulance as it was more commonly known. We didn’t personalise who were in the body bags because we knew it would have such a detrimental effect on our mental health. Serving on MERT, she was tasked with recovering wounded soldiers and witnessed some of the most horrifying scenes of human suffering. She said: "The 'bat phone' would ring, we'd take down all these details, we would sprint out to the aircraft, spin the aircraft up as quick as we could, engineers would be helping and most of the time we'd get very minimal information to begin with, and injuries in Afghanistan don't just happen by accident.

AeroTime sat down with McConaghy to talk about the Chinook, women in the military and the importance of talking about our mental health. Does McConaghy have any words of wisdom for people thinking of following the same kind of career path? It's Liz here again, and today, I’d like to chat about something that's close to my heart – the importance of giving your mental health a score. Read more about the condition New: A new, unread, unused book in perfect condition with no missing or damaged pages. The Chinook chick survived Afghanistan and Iraq but was almost defeated back home Liz McConaghy racked up an incredible 3,000 flying hours manning the guns on the RAF's heavy-lift helicopters over 17 action-packed years, including 12 deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Aged just 21, she was the youngest aircrew member to deploy to Iraq and was also the only female crewman' on the Chinook wing for four years.This then turned into journaling, and three weeks after putting pen to paper, Liz had unknowingly written a book. This is a genuinely unique tale that only Liz could tell, which ends with her battling the memories that haunted her, long after she had left the battlefield. Because it’s so hard to identify a firing point where the rounds are coming from, you just have to stand your ground at the mini-gun and pray that there’s a little Ready Brek glow surrounding you. 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. They might be dropping off supplies, or collecting or delivering troops in smash-and-grab raids to the battle zone.

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. When she landed a dream job at an aviation company, life looked positive again, but then, in March 2020, Britain entered its first Covid lockdown. Succeeding in overcoming her demons, Liz is now a highly sought-after motivational speaker who candidly speaks about her battle with mental health and shares inspirational anecdotes of her military career. Liz’s story offers hope to those who have also found themselves in the darkest of places, who are looking for the tools within themselves to begin to rebuild a pathway to a new life. Liz finished counselling with us in early 2022, she says “we all have good days and bad days, but life has been pretty good since.McConaghy said that the most frequently asked, and least favorite, question over the years has been the challenges she has faced as a female crewman. In 2005, Liz was first deployed to Afghanistan and she’d go on to complete 10 tours as part of the medical helicopter response team providing emergency assistance to wounded personnel. Part of her role during these conflicts was the MERT medical recovery aircraft for injured soldiers. My proudest day in the RAF, despite all the things I’ve done; [is when] I took the Chinook into my old high school, and it was a grammar school back in Northern Ireland. It was written to inspire those who wish to join the Royal Air Force and help others who might be contending with difficult battlefield memories.



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