Kylie’s in control
By CAPT Cameron Jamieson

Volume 49, No. 18, October 04, 2007
EYES ON THE SKIES: LACW Kylie Zipf, an air surveillance operator with the RAAF’s Control and Reporting Centre at Kandahar Airfield, in front of the AN/TPS-77 radar used to provide the coalition air picture in Afghanistan.
Photo by CAPT Cameron Jamieson
There may have been a few nerves at the start of her Afghanistan deployment, but LACW Kylie Zipf has now got it all under control.

The air surveillance operator from 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit is currently serving with the RAAF’s Control and Reporting Centre at Kandahar Airfield.

Her team is responsible for all aircraft movements and tactical air support within Afghan airspace. She monitors military combat and cargo aircraft movements by providing information on aircraft locations to air battle managers so that they can safely direct pilots regardless of the weather or time of day.

“It is very rewarding knowing that the role we are performing is helping to save lives as part of the war against terrorism,” LACW Zipf says.

She was a bit nervous when she found out she was being deployed.

“I didn’t know whether I was excited or scared about coming here,” she says, “but I was glad to have an opportunity to put all my training into practice.

“I’m quite comfortable with things now. There are certain risks associated with being here, but we know about them and we’re well prepared for them.”

Kandahar is located on a flat plain overlooked by rugged treeless mountains, so there’s little to distract her from her work.

“It’s very bland here,” she says, “but a lot better than what I expected going into a wartime situation. We’re living well – we have tents, air-conditioning, and our meals are all provided. So we’re not doing it too rough.”

LACW Zipf joined the Air Force in January 2004 and is currently posted to RAAF Base Darwin.

“I was after a change of lifestyle with new opportunities and possibilities,” she says.

“I was a property manager [but] I needed a lifestyle that was more adventurous and exciting; something that would let me travel.”

LACW Zipf says she had no regrets about enlisting. “I’ve seen a lot, I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve been to more places that I could ever have imagined before.”

Initially, her deployment wasn’t popular with her fiancé. “He doesn’t like it when I go away,” she says, “but then he got the news that he was being deployed to the Middle East as well. Now that we both have laptops and internet access, we can chat on-line.”

Her parents were also concerned when they learnt of their daughter’s deployment.

“They watch the news and we talk almost daily, [so] they know I’m happy, and in high spirits,” LACW Zipf says.