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News and Publications > SMC Connect News > From Film to Flightline: Caitlin Early's Journey to the RNZAF

From Film to Flightline: Caitlin Early's Journey to the RNZAF

After pursuing a degree in film and music, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Old Girl Caitlin Early to make what she describes as a drastic pivot to enlist in the military.
Part of the RNZAF No.6 Squadron, Caitlin is responsibile for Seasprite helicopters.
Part of the RNZAF No.6 Squadron, Caitlin is responsibile for Seasprite helicopters.

SMC Old Girl Caitlin Early (2011-2015) pursued a degree in film and music when she left school, but like many others, she was forced to make what she called a drastic pivot due to COVID-19 and enlist in the military. Sister Sophie (SMC 2013-2017) was an NZDF army medic, so Caitlin was aware of the training and opportunities and hasn’t looked back.

Now part of the RNZAF No.6 Squadron, Caitlin looks after the Seasprite helicopters for the Royal New Zealand Navy. “I love working with my hands, and you’re always working with a great bunch of people.  The Air Force gave me the opportunity to do something completely new, and I found something I love that I didn’t anticipate.”

One of Caitlin's recent assignments meant she was close to home carrying out duties at the Warbirds Over Wanaka at Easter Weekend. On the flight line and working on ground maintenance, Caitlin worked with the aircraft when it was flying, refuelling, marshalling, dispatching and daily service. 

Hoping to be deployed to sea with the Navy once she finishes her senior training, Caitlin is most looking forward to being able to travel and explore different Asian and Pacific countries and meet other military personnel from these countries.  “Like with my deployment to Warbirds over Wanaka, I travelled with maintenance and aircrew, with whom you hang out during and after the working day, eat with, and explore, creating core memories and friendships. I’m excited to be posted to ship as I will experience being part of the navy and exploring the expanses of the Pacific Ocean while still being a part of my Air Force Squadron.” 

For anyone considering joining the military, Caitlin’s advice is to stay open-minded, say yes to everything, and be present in the moment. “Decide on a trade that interests you and is something you can enjoy. You get paid to train and get sufficient qualifications that will also help you in areas outside the defence force.”

And for the fitness requirements, she advises being as prepared as you can be for basic training. Aiming to meet the requirements for the fitness test before starting will help a lot in the long run and take the pressure off. “Things can get hard, but the challenges always pass, and there are so many more opportunities to grow.”

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