Five Minutes With

Hayley Grieve

Air Force Pilot

Hayley Grieve Royal Australian Air Force Pilot
What is your job/profession?

I’m a pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force and I fly the KC30A – a Multi Roll Tanker Transport. Similar to a large airliner, so not only can we carry 270 passengers, but we can offload fuel mid-air to other military planes. 

Hayley in her KC30A – a Multi Roll Tanker Transport
How did you get interested in it?

My parents! My dad is a retired international commercial pilot and my mum used to be a private pilot. I grew up travelling with my family and I would go and sit up in the cockpit with dad and watch him fly. As a result, I developed a love of aviation and flying.

What does an average day as a pilot involve?

In the military I am lucky that each day is very different. To prepare for a flight, we will get together all of our products, such as flight plan, weather pack, diplomatic clearances and notes from the captains of the aircraft we will be refuelling. Once we’ve done this, we’ll have a crew brief and chat about the operation and necessary limitations and threats associated with the flight. Then it’s the fun part and we get to go flying! Once we land, we’ll debrief the flight focusing on safety, learning points and things to improve on. Our destination could be anywhere in the world, which is the exciting part.

What's the coolest thing about your work?

I get to be involved in operations and exercises that require us to enact different scenarios and essentially do close formation with heavy jet aircraft and fighter jets. During my deployment to the Middle East, we flew over Iraq and Syria refuelling coalition aircraft and listening on the radios to the fight going on below – this was a very surreal experience. Another cool side of my job is knowing that I am flying myself and others to a different country, experiencing a different cultures and doing this with the amazing people I work with. 

What is the most challenging thing about your work?

The most challenging thing about being a pilot is the amount of study you put into maintaining your knowledge and increasing your skill level. As well as this, you are away from your family quite a lot of the time, which can be difficult sometimes as you not only miss them, but you also miss key events in their lives. 

What education or skills are needed to do be a pilot?

To become a pilot, it’s always good to start prepping in school. If you focus on STEM subjects, such as mathematics and science, you will put yourself in a good position to start the process of becoming a pilot. A handy skill to have as a pilot is hand eye coordination. You can improve these skills by playing a ball sport, a musical instrument, or video games. Did you know, you can get your pilot licence before you get your driver licence?! 

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by notable people that have pushed through the glass ceiling and also those that have pioneered the way for females in aviation. I’m inspired by the technology that is now available to us that allows for better operating systems and greater safety benefits. I’m inspired to be the best at what I do. I’m hugely supported by my fiancé and this allows me to work hard and aim for the stars.

When you’re not at work what do you like to do?

When I’m not at work, I love to spend time with my husband-to-be and our little puppy, Winston – the cutest chocolate miniature dachshund! When I have free time though, I’m very involved in trying to get more girls interested in aviation. I do presentations at air leagues, high schools and universities to aspiring pilots and also sit on the board at Women in Aviation /Aerospace Australia to help create awareness, opportunities and networks. This work is incredibly rewarding and I get to meet so many amazing people!

Hayley by her training plane Hayley by her training plane
What advice can you give to aspiring pilots?

You will hit multiple hurdles along the way, such as failing something, someone telling you that you can’t do it, and people doubting your choices. The best thing you can do is show them exactly how committed and focused you are on achieving your goal of becoming a pilot! The road to becoming a pilot is a long and potentially arduous one, but an incredibly rewarding one! So, study hard, volunteer at air museums, look to join an air league or cadet program, take a trial introductory flight at a flying school and do as much as you can to prepare yourself for your amazing future. But most of all, love what you do!

Thanks for chatting with us Hayley!