Sheridan Howell—Search and Rescue Officer (Aviation)

Sheridan has been with AMSA for almost two years as one of our Aviation Search and Rescue Officers. Working out of our Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, Sheridan coordinates aviation-related incidents that fall within the Australian search and rescue region.

A career that has spanned over 17 years started when she was studying for her pilot’s licence, and a friend recommended that she apply for a job at Coastwatch (now a part of Border Force).  It was a career she hadn’t heard of until that moment, and hasn’t looked back since. We spoke to Sheridan about the industry and her career highlights.

What made you interested in your career?

I’ve had a keen interest in aeroplanes ever since I can remember.  The passion runs in my family.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

The diversity of incidents, the challenges, the people, the pure passion the industry creates and not to mention it’s extremely interesting!    

Any career highlights? 

Too many to name!  

Flying with Coastwatch and search and rescue were constant ‘pinch me’ moments from low-level flying over the Great Barrier Reef, through the Snowy Mountains, flying amongst icebergs near Antarctica on a Gulfstream jet and working together with other search and rescue agencies to help the general public.

Being in the office at AMSA is a different dynamic (and a whole lot more busy!) but a very welcome challenging and rewarding environment.

What motivates you every day?

I’ve always maintained that I never want to look back on my life and be disappointed so I try and create a life that I’m proud of. So far so good!


Who are your female role models?

Breast cancer surgeon Dr Chantel Thornton—driven, inspiring, passionate, sophisticated

Author of One Woman’s War and Peace: A nurse’s journey in the Royal Australian Air Force Wing Commander Sharon Bown (retired)—strong in every sense of the word and nothing short of a life inspiration. Her book is worth reading!

Many women in my life—I’m proud to be surrounded by so many strong, driven, inspiring and humble women I call my friends.

What tips would you give to anyone who is interested in your career?

Hang out with your local aero club, research jobs in aviation (Search and Rescue, Border Force, helicopters).  Aviation is a broad field. There’s Air Traffic Control, Customs, airlines, helicopter operations etc, it doesn’t necessarily have to be search and rescue if aviation is your passion.

What would you say to women who are interested in joining the industry?

Do it! Because not only is it away from the normal 9 to 5, Monday to Friday slog, both industries (Maritime and Aviation) are constantly evolving and currently going through some historical and exciting changes.  

How do you unwind?

Cooking, travelling, seeing friends and family, reading.

What’s your favourite aviation song? 

I’m a Jet Pilot—amusing YouTube video or Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters.

What’s your favourite lighthouse?

Cape Otway.