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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There’s so many people [that] have reached out to me since they’ve read it or heard my story here, either suffering from PTSD, who know of someone who’s got PTSD or might be on the brink of it, who they’re helping now because they’ve read my story, and also a lot of people have been affected by suicide because obviously I got to the point where I took a huge overdose and tried to end my life. Now hired as a popular motivational speaker, Liz McConaghy shares her heartfelt stories of battling mental health in the RAF. Commenting on this year's Women in Defence awards and Ms McConaghy's win, Alidad Moghaddam, CEO of Defence Discount Service said: "Liz's journey resonated deeply with us at Defence Discount Service. The self-styled crew ‘chick’ has recently published her memoir about her time serving on the Royal Air Force’s Chinook helicopter.

It was a privilege to be part of it, a huge honour really, to be part of any soldier's last journey off the battlefield. Liz is one of six women who has served as a loadmaster in the RAF, and for four years, was the only female crewman on the Chinook wing.Liz is sure to enthral audiences with tales from dodging bullets to saving soldiers, along with witnessing the brutality and loss of war which found her bringing the battlefield home despite her fighting days being over.

Aviation people have a very different slant on life, possibly because they know how quickly things can go wrong. Liz was the youngest aircrew to deploy to Iraq aged just 21 and the only female crewman on the Chinook wing for four years and her career saw her amass two deployments to Iraq and ten deployments to Helmand Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick. Suddenly you take that badge off and you’re not wearing it every day it’s hard to figure out who you are. The original manuscript was written in just three weeks as part of McConaghy’s recovery process from PTSD and is a rapid read at 160 pages. But just like anything in your body, the bone you break or whatever, with the right time and methods you can heal, and you can move on and recover.

AeroTime caught up with Liz earlier this week and also appointed her as the latest AeroTime Aviation Champion in recognition of her work and dedication to the industry.

Still to this day I really struggle to see a Union Jack flag without getting overwhelmed with memories. With her hands tied together, McConaghy felt it “roll down my chest and all the way to my belly button.The author's captivating storytelling and her ability to provide a unique perspective make this book a true gem. I’d kind of ignored it because we were on Herrick and there was a war to be fought, and then it started to get so bad I couldn’t fly.

In a conversation with BFBS the Forces Station about her award, Ms McConaghy spoke about her time with the MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team), describing that as "the highlight and the biggest privilege" of her career, saying: "As part of that duty, we were recovering the injured and wounded soldiers off the battlefield and seeing regularly. In 2020, Liz suffered extensively with her mental health due to the onset of PTSD following almost two decades at war. Now the author of Chinook Crew ‘Chick’: Highs and Lows of Force Life from the Longest Serving Female RAF Chinook Crewmember, Liz is on a mission to support those who are entering a career in the Royal Air Force and those who have endured difficult experiences in the military.I knew we were about to crash so I braced myself hard against the door frame and placed my hand on the release straps of my harness,” she said. As an RAF Veteran, I bring unique insights into team empowerment, overcoming adversity, decision-making, and talent retention. I recently had the pleasure of reading "Chinook Crew 'Chick': Highs and Lows of Forces Life," an extraordinary memoir written by the longest-serving female RAF Chinook crew member.

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