Alumni News

Andrews Dickason class of 2001

After leaving school I successfully completed my Private Pilots Licence training, but in 2007 took a different route into aviation, and began a role as Air Search Observer at a newly formed company called AeroRescue, which contracted fixed wing Search And Rescue services to the Australian Government with its fleet of Dornier 328 aircraft.  I spent 10 years at AeroRescue firstly as an Air Search Observer and Drop Master at the Brisbane base, before transferring to Darwin and qualifying as an Aircraft Mission Coordinator.  In 2017 I moved from AeroRescue to Cobham SAR Services, when then new government contract for SAR services was awarded to Cobham.  The role is the same, but the platform is now a modified Challenger 604 business jet, which enables us to almost double our time on scene at increased ranges.  The reach of the jet means our area of operations now extends as far south as Antartica, and as far away as where a tasking has already taken us to the Marshall Islands, Micronesia (which sits almost half way between Cairns and Hawaii).

 Our scope of operations includes distress beacon homing, dropping survival equipment, visual and electronic search (using RADAR and electro-optics), and top cover support for rescue helicopters.  The role is very challenging and dynamic, and we never know where the day might take us.  One day we can be flying around in the outback looking for a missing person, or overdue vehicle, and the next day we could be overseas assisting another country in searching for an overdue vessel hundreds of miles from shore.  The job is extremely rewarding, especially when you find people who have been missing for an extended period of time and hear the relief in their voice over the radio when you first make contact with them and let them know help is on the way.   

 The Aircraft Mission Coordinator is responsible for accepting mission tastings from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra, executing the mission, directing the crew during the mission, operating the aircraft sensors (including RADAR, FLIR camera, radios and other sensors), and once finding the target, coordinate the rescue effort by organising a suitable rescue platform and ensuring the target’s survival until help arrives.  

So far my 13 year career I have completed over 150 missions, and logged over 1200 hours of flight time.

I am currently living in Cairns with Kylee, my wife of 13 years, and 2 boys Liam (7) and Jayden (5).