Career Progression

Cpl Karen Walsh - 101 Squadron, No.1 Operations Wing

Describe your role and what you do?

I’m a SARO (Sensor Airborne Radar Operator) on board the CN-235 CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft. I operate the Oceaneye APS/143 CV (3) Surveillance Radar System; basically the SARO is the pilot’s eyes down the back of the aircraft guiding him onto targets detected by the radar.

What kind of people / units do you work with?

The unit I work in is 101 Sqn, No1 Ops Wing. I am the only female in my unit and I have been part of Maritime Sqn for 4 years to date. I work with ten other lads. I have great respect for them as they do for me. We all work closely together because of our job and we all get on well together and work well as a team.

Describe a typical day?

A typical day for me flying would consist of a 45min flight brief prior to departure on a six to seven hour maritime patrol. The briefing explains weather conditions, sea temperatures and various other details about the area we will be operating in for the patrol. The SARO’s job is to use the radar to plot all sea-going targets in our AO (Area of Operation) and the crew will then visually inspect as many vessels as possible within the patrol time. On return into Casement Aerodrome all data recorded during our patrol is sent to various centres including the Naval Fisheries Monitoring Centre and Customs.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the flying aspect of my job as not everybody in the Defence Forces gets to do a job like mine. While fishery protection is our primary role, from time to time, we are requested to perform some specialised patrols such as Search and Rescue, Top Cover, Customs / Covert Operations, all of which are very interesting. 

What have you learned since joining the Air Corps?

I’ve learned many things since joining the Air Corps. I now have a much better understanding of its roles and responsibilities than I did while serving in the army. I also know a lot more about all the different types of aircraft in the Air Corps and there capabilities. 

What is your current living situation (e.g. in camp/barracks/flat etc.)?

I am currently living in Co. Meath with my fiancé Ray.

What do you do with your free time?

My hobbies include keeping a good standard of fitness through running and cycling. I also like to spend time with my fiancé Ray, my family and friends.

RSM Geraldine Browne. Air Traffic Control, Air Corps

What is your job?

I am the Senior Instructor in Air Traffic Control in Baldonnel.

How did you get to this job?

I joined the Defence Forces in 1990 and commenced an ATC Course in 1994, where I have been working since.

What type of courses have you done?

Since completing my ATC course I have undertaken a number of other courses in the ATC and Air Safety fields such as the Flight Data Assistant course, the Tower Controller course, the Radar course, the OJTI (On the Job Training Instructor) course, and Competency Assessment Course.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career?

Completing my ATC course, the sense of achievement and relief!

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to achieve further promotion within my unit & would like to do additional ATC courses, in the area of Flight Safety.

What was your most challenging overseas deployment and why?

I was overseas once with the 73 Inf Bn in Lebanon. It was during a very difficult time when the ‘Irish area’ in which I worked was under constant fire & shelling. However it was also a great trip, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would recommend overseas service to everyone.

What advice would you give people who wish to join the Defence Forces?

I would advise people to seriously consider a career in the Defence Forces, as I think the Defence Forces is a great Career choice. It offers a huge range of opportunities such as travel, further education or to specialise in a particular area. My experience as a female has been very positive.

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