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Defence Work
Experience Program

Teenager off to Flying Start in Navy Career : Sophie Wheen

Ben Weir

MIDN Sophie Wheen sitting with 2015 work experience participant Karen Hackenberg in the mess at HMAS Creswell.

She has just turned 18, but Midshipman Sophie Wheen is already 6 months into her quest to become a Navy pilot.

Having finished Year 12 in 2014 at Methodist Ladies College in Sydney, the ambitious teenager is now completing the New Entry Officer Course (NEOC) at HMAS Creswell at Jervis Bay.

“I can’t believe I’m fortunate enough to be in this position,” Midshipman Wheen said.

“I’m getting to do things I’d never get to do as a civilian – and it’s all part of my journey to become a Navy helicopter Pilot,” she said.

Despite her young age, Sophie’s quest to become a Defence aviator began several years ago at a family open day at HMAS Albatross at Nowra, on the South Coast of NSW.

MAJGEN Iain Spence, Head Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division was thrilled to learn that taking part in a Defence Work Experience Program placement had cemented Sophie’s decision to continue her journey to become a Navy pilot.

‘Participation in the Defence Work Experience Program helps participants to make an informed decision about joining the Australian Defence Force. In Sophie’s case, work experience at HMAS Albatross cemented her desire to join the Navy and pursue her dream of becoming a pilot.”

The application process to join Defence was detailed and thorough with a mixture of tests, training and interviews conducted at various locations.

Then came the acceptance offer!

“That was in December last year and my life changed instantly,” Midshipman Wheen said.

“This next four years are full of study and learning, then I get to train and, ultimately, become a pilot.”

“After NEOC, we spend the rest of this year learning more about being an officer and about the Navy at HMAS Albatross.”

“Then there’s three years studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) before we start flying.”

Despite her young age, Sophie Wheen has learnt a lot about herself in a short time with the Navy.

“I’ve matured a lot and have developed skills like problem-solving, communication skills and how to interact with other people,” she said.

“If the first six months is anything to go by, I’m going to really enjoy my career as a Navy Officer.”