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Naval Aircraft Handler Reflects on Century of Women working with the Navy

6 September 2017
As we look forward to celebrating 100 years of women working with or in the Royal Navy, this week we profile the work of some serving and ex-service female personnel at RNAS Culdrose, and how the roles of female Naval personnel have changed in some of their lifetimes.

Kayleigh has only recently joined the Royal Navy.  She signed up because she wanted an active job where she was working with aircraft. She also wanted to be a fire-fighter.

The job of Aircraft Handler in the Royal Navy was the perfect career for her, as it combined both interests.

Kayleigh has never experienced anything but total integration of men and women in the Royal Navy.

The WRNS, and women not going to sea or having the same career opportunities as men is something in the distant past for her. But like all women starting their naval careers, Kayleigh understands the changes that have taken place and the challenges faced by the first women at sea.

The branch of Aircraft Handler became open to women in 1991, around the time that sea service for women became available.

Kayleigh loves her job and the Royal Navy, and she finds both aspects very satisfying.  The two main roles involve moving aircraft on a flight deck of a ship or at an Air Station, and being a fire fighter.

Both elements are very physical and demanding mentally. Recalling her training Kayleigh said "It’s very challenging being a fire fighter. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I had the support of those I was training with.

"They encouraged me, but I had to do everything myself, which is only right; I was the only girl on my course."

Training is hard at times. You just keep going; you have your mates to encourage you; I thought I could never do it but I did’.


One of the aspects of naval life that Kayleigh really enjoys is the teamwork. She says that it is fundamental in everything that she does.

"You work as a team in your job. Everyone has a role to do and knows exactly how to perform it.

"The whole team is like a well-tuned engine and then when the work is done, you have your mates around you to socialise with."

When asked what she would say to someone, male or female, joining the Royal Navy, she said she would advise them to go for it 100%.  She says that it is the best thing she has ever done.

"Training is hard at times. You just keep going; you have your mates to encourage you; I thought I could never do it but I did."

Kayleigh is currently shore based working as an air station Fire Fighter.

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