Pounding rain beats heavily on the roof of a hangar at Nausori airport. Faint local radio music can be heard, the laid-back reggae beat cutting through the tropical cacophony as aircraft maintainers labour on Australian Army MRH 90 Taipan helicopters, ensuring they are mission ready.
Craftsman David Chadwick, 22, from Echunga, South Australia, is one of those maintainers. An Aircraft Technician by trade (also known as a "Blackhander") - this is David's first deployment after completing his technical training.
Craftsman Chadwick joined the army in 2013. Initially posted to RAAF Base Wagga, David completed 18 months of training there before being sent to Oakey for training on the MRH 90 helicopter. Following successful course completion, David was then posted to the 5th Aviation Regiment based out of Townsville, Queensland.
While trying to decide on is career options, David looked at the choices available as well as doing a week of work experience at Keswick Barracks in Adelaide.
"I went to a career expo in year eight and decided to join the army," he said.
"I went through several job options, including the Royal Military College, Duntroon, but I wanted to do something hands on. That was when I chose to become an Aircraft Technician."
Op Fiji Assist is David's first deployment and he has really enjoyed the experience.
"It's great being overseas, knowing that you are contributing to helping people recover."
Asked about the challenges, David grinned.
"The high tempo and extended working hours – but I like it. You get so much experience in your job."
Conditions are similar to Townsville, humid and hot. Being from South Australia, David was not happy in the heat at first, but said you get used to it.
Upon return to Australia, Craftsman Chadwick is anticipating a short break before going on exercise with his unit.
"I am looking forward to a few days camping at Airlie Beach… And warm showers. We only have cold showers out here at the airport!"