For Port Kennedy-raised Mark Swinn, the idea of being in the air is something that has excited him for as long as he can remember.
The flight lieutenant (FLTLT), who now serves as an air combat officer in the Royal Australian Airforce, has proudly served his country since January 2008.
Currently posted to 2 Squadron, Mark is part of the squadron’s detachment at exercise Bersama Lima 16, operating out of Royal Malaysian Airforce Base Butterworth, Penang.
He said a typical day at work would involve mission planning for a flight.
“This involves co-ordination with external agencies including fighter-jet squadrons to find out what support they are after,” he said.
“We also have a mission brief with our crew so everyone knows the tasking we are out to support for that day.”
Flights generally last between four to six hours, which involves him controlling aircraft and providing situational awareness of the battle space for tactical control intercepts.
“We then land and debrief the mission to take away any learning points for the next mission,” Mark said.
Such is the nature of the job. Mark spends about six to eight months of the year away from home.
However, the time and distance spent away from loved ones is something made easier by the support on-hand from his crew.
“The great thing about my job is I have a crew of 12 mates that I get to fly around with,” Mark said.
“This makes it easier to handle time away and everyone takes care of each other.
“I also get back to Perth twice a year to see my family and, with Skype, it makes it easy to stay in touch regularly.”
Although he spends most of his time away from home, Mark still has fond memories of earlier life in Rockingham.
“I went to Port Kennedy Primary School; however, I went to John Curtin in Fremantle for high school,” he said.
“I grew up close to the beach and was constantly at Warnbro beach or surfing down at Secret Harbour.”
While Mark’s role in Exercise Bersama Lima is complex, it’s an operation he views as a great international engagement and also a terrific development opportunity for his career.