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Royal Australian Air Force Transitions from ‘Airmen’ to ‘Aviators’

The Royal Australian Air Force has replaced the term ‘airmen’ with ‘aviators’ as it enters its second century.


Warrant Officer Ivan Petrovic (centre front) places the Memorial Book on a plinth during the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney as part of the RAAF Centenary commemorations. Photo by LS David Cox

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, AO, DSC revealed this change on 31 March, at a centenary dinner which hosted past and present aviators.

Air Marshal Hupfeld said that as Air Force charts its path forward, he wants to instil a stronger sense of identity.

“Of all the work that has been done in developing our Air Force culture, the most challenging dilemma has been fully explaining who we are,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“We understand well enough what we are and what we do – but have never quite managed to successfully articulate WHO we are.

“We are ALL aviators.

“As an Air Force, we are born of the air and space.It is our home, and the place from which we serve our nation. Our trade is Aviation.

“In everything that we do, we are aviators first and foremost. All of us, by virtue of what we do and what we believe. It is what binds us together.”

Air Marshal Hupfeld cautioned against confusing the role of pilots with Air Force personnel’s common and collective purpose to the nation – “to think, act and imagine from the perspective of the skies and space above us.”

The change was timed with the announcement to revamp Air Force culture through the Our Air Force, Our Culture program.

The new program builds on the foundation of previous measures, and closely aligns with the update to the Air Force Strategy launched in 2020.

Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT

39 Responses to “Royal Australian Air Force Transitions from ‘Airmen’ to ‘Aviators’”

  1. JR says:

    At first glance, OK…

    But when we dig into the “why”, it’s just another western nation which is simply no longer serious about being a nation.

  2. AAA says:

    Coming soon to an Air Force near you

    Vote GIANT Meteor 2024!!!!

    not that voting counts anymore….

  3. Hans says:

    Everyone that has lived under a regime has already lived through something like this. I grew up in the German Democratic Republic and they were renaming or relabeling stuff all the time to better suit their ideology. The same was true for communist Russia.

    Normalcy always becomes an enemy to the ideologues as it is often in direct contradiction to their utopia. Be it language, institutions or science, everything has to bow to the ideas of the regime.

    Eventually the burden of the consequences of ignoring reality becomes too much for the general public to accept. We still have a long way to go, but once pregnant female special forces operatives die in some proxy conflict, people will most likely understand that something went horribly wrong. Too late but a turning point non-the less. Its not going to get better the next day, but at least the course correction will become inevitable. Right now its still full steam ahead, utopia awaits.

  4. Bill says:

    Country changes naming convention to a more badass noun which is also more inclusive of all personal who actually contribute to their national defense…

    Boomers who peaked as a AA high school lineman: “the commies are winning! How will national defense survive in the hands of Women”

    Aviator is an awesome title. US Air Force needs to be ashamed they didn’t think of this first. I’m sure some pilots who don’t know how to fuel their own plane are pissed though.

    • erasmus says:

      I’m just a bill
      Yes, I’m only a bill…

      you lost me at “inclusive”

      you ID’d your generation with “boomer”

      get thyself back to airsoft/gaming, jockstrap job bitching, and your instatwitterface feed dedicated to making sure your efforts to cure the inequities of the world are liked by all people (with their vibrant and diverse pronouns and preoccupations) as regime-supporting propaganda delivered by a most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed purveyor of wokeness

      • LowSpeed says:

        You ID’d your generation with “you lost me at ‘inclusive'”

        It’s a simple name change. It may positively impact recruitment, which is something, but it has zero impact on effectiveness. Bombs will continue dropping from the skies and boots on the ground (many of which are filled with the feet of Zoomers, Millenials, and of course, Gen X’ers) will continue fighting our nation’s (and our partners’/allys’ haha) wars.

        • jjj0309 says:

          It’s a simple name change you say? George Orwell disagrees. The manipulation of political language starts from trivia things, names and etcetera, until you declare yourself as a National Socialist, and starts to justify mass murder and make lies sound truthful.
          War is Peace, Lies are Truth, Ignorance is Strength, Aviator is more inclusive than Airmen, Discrimination is Equality, Division is Unity.
          If you cannot see the political agenda behind this, you are either deluding yourself or lying. You see gungrabbers panics when they sees a term ‘Assault Rifle’? It’s not just ‘A Simple’ name change. The goal here is division, just like you are doing here right now, dividing and discriminating people because of their generation. How humanitarian of you.
          Gender division, race division, and now generation division. I’m so sick of this. I guess segmentation is the new equality now.
          Replacing a term with more exclusive and gender-specific one for the sake of equality and inclusivity.. We are peak of the humanity right?
          Yelling at old men and blaming them for everything doesn’t change anything. I’m a quite young man even I know this. We are all stuck in gutters, no matter how old or young you are.

          • LowSpeed says:

            I’m not dividing anyone. I am rolling my eyes at the near-hysterical pearl-clutching that civilization is on the brink over a mere title change.

            I don’t think this is the same thing as the deliberate, dishonest, language games gun-grabbers frequently engage in.
            Have you considered this?:

            “Aviator” has long been defacto understood as neutral, even though it is literally gendered. Just as “Airman” is considered by nearly anyone you might ask as gendered (due to the “man”). What a shocker! Humans frequently, without malice, understand and use language in weird ways.

            Try it: Ask people around you which one is gendered and which isn’t. Unless you’ve got a bunch of Language Professor buddies I’m willing to be most will honestly screw it up.

            Take a deep breath. You’re probably gonna be ok as long as you’re not getting insanely spun up about pretty much nothing.

            • AbnMedOps says:

              As Winston Churchill said, regarding “gendered” words in the English language (such as “mankind”, or “manhole cover”): “The male embraces the female”.

            • Another Ed says:

              Aviator/Aviatrix

              From Merriam-Webster:

              aviatrix noun

              avi·?a·?trix | \ ??-v?-??-triks, ?a- \
              plural aviatrixes\ ??-?v?-???-?trik-?s?z, ?a-? \ or aviatrices\ ??-?v?-???-?tr?-??s?z, ?a-? \

              Definition of aviatrix

              : a woman who is an aviator

    • jjj0309 says:

      Bill, we are living in the legacy of the ‘Boomer’ Generation. All the things we are enjoying, built upon their blood, sweat and tears.
      If replacing the whole term because it’s more ‘Cooler’ and ‘Awesome’ is valid, why don’t you change your name into Max Power Ninja Assassin and calling your own gender as Attack Helicopter? Oh wait, you already do.
      Believe or not, the term Airmen is more inclusive than the term Aviator ever does. English isn’t my first language and even I know this. As the bellow comment suggested, female term of the Aviator would be either Aviatrix or Aviatress.
      We are mankind, after all. No one can change that.

      • LowSpeed says:

        Yep, thanks to the Boomers we are in a position to change names as we see fit whether they like it or not just like they did while standing on the shoulders of the Giants of their time. The world goes on.

        The name change is fine, kind of blah in my opinion but whatever. Organizations rebrand all the time after doing research on their objectives and how it will appeal to and impact future, incoming, or current members. This trend is well established. Remember the Army Air Corps?

        Side note: No real person is seriously changing their gender to identify as some nonsense like “Attack Helicopter.” There are, however, transgender people who can meet basic military standards and would (or want to) risk life, limb, relationships, and mental/emotional stability so, ostensibly, people such as yourself can continue to freely make such stale, old jokes at their expense.

        • The Attack Helicopter “joke” is popular because it quite simply identifies the issue that once words have less meaning and anyone can self identify whatever they want at any time, it fundamentally causes problems even if not wide spread problems. It is all fun and games till the government and where you work suddenly decide you must face punishment if you don’t respect someone else’s alternate reality.
          https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6269051/My-partner-dog-transgender-man-identifies-canine.html

          So yea if the best you got is the joke is old, then that shows you just never came up with a counter to the reasonable concern

          Sometimes changes are dumb and deserved the backlash, such as the “Army of One” campaign that obviously conflicts with military teamwork values while trying to attract early millennials of the time.

          • LowSpeed says:

            It’s not a reasonable concern and slope isn’t as slippery as some might claim. Current legislation (proposed or otherwise) and political discourse in the United States and Canada at least remain in the human-realm. That’s one person who is very clearly into specific outlandish kinks (furry, animal play). I find it odd that that story was widely published among mostly obscure commentary sources and not something widely discussed among people who actually research and publish findings on sexuality, gender, policy and identity.

            Is there a real-world/offline mass movement of actual people identifying as non-human/inanimate objects that I’m unaware of? Maybe. Or is there a ton of obscure sources (which sometimes work their way up to the mainstreams like dailymail) like StuffToRuffleYourSensibilities.com, Tumblr, and 8kun just making it appear that way to folks looking for it?

            • If there aren’t any standards or rules, people are just going to see what they can get away with. If you think animal-kin is not a thing then you are just putting your head in the sand.
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9ZjGzL1otE

              The earlier puppy-kin example discussion is all over youtube if you want more. Advocates try and spin it as kink shaming, when it was only story worthy because the person insisted on being identified as a dog outside of private pet play. Which brings up the question, how is pet-identity any more outlandish than some other trans-identities? The amount of furry action on twitter, tumblr, and in person cons show that it is way beyond obscure.

              Animals aside, there is reasonable concern someone could be gender fluid and change their pronouns everyday and everyone around them is obligated to adapt. Is it a general population common issue?, no. The issue is that it is even a possible at all. The way things are headed it could be considered a hate crime to not play along. The USA isn’t there yet, but Canada is.

              • LowSpeed says:

                All that -kin nonsense is certainly “real.” I won’t deny that, it’s just an internet thing in my opinion. That one person trying to extend that outside the bedroom seems like an outlier. An odd, obscure exception and not the rule. People are freakin weird online. I’m sure there’s tons of Tumblr BS to gawk at. What I’m saying is that -kin isn’t a real-world problem. While it’s possible someone could randomly “change” their gender (or species?) for some sort of gain, like any number of scary possible things, it isn’t a thing happening in any large sense and there aren’t any serious indicators that animal-kin Tumblr/Youtube users are organizing in any real way for anything. Sorry, unlike with many other social issues, there’s just no corresponding history, street, or ballot action for me to take this -kin crap seriously. I suspect it’s purely a weird online subculture made up of old posts from odd teens expressing themselves in weird-ass ways and actual trolls amplifying that weirdness in the ways anyone who spent any time on the chans or kun would recognize. It seems totally made up and that might be why no serious professional in any field dealing with sex/gender/identity writes about it or discusses it much.

                Transgenderism, on the other hand, has a pretty long history across cultures. We’ve known about it for centuries, just like at one point we knew about different sexual orientations. Actual, verifiable people are organized offline, in the streets, and influencing/drafting policy for equal rights under current law/opportunity. Don’t take my word for it being a real thing. Simply open an incognito google tab and search something along the lines of “Transgender and history”, hell even Wikipedia might do if you’re up for reading through the sources.

                Some people compare that animal-kin stuff to a kink because it makes the most sense. To compare animal-kin to Transgender seems like the old stuff people used to do when our society was figuring out if we’d treat non-heterosexuals equally under the law.

                All that being said: Have you seen any indicators that a movement of “gender fluid” persons are organizing to, either overtly or covertly, randomly “change” their identity to deliberately hurt someone or get some kind of advantage? Is that something you’ve been seeing on Youtube as well?

                Maybe I’ll come back to this post and cry when some Empress-God Queen Lobster-Kin has taken my weapons and is pinching my head off for wrong-think.

                • Most people aren’t anti-trans, they are anti having to change themselves to accommodate a hyper minority they haven’t even met. Once gender started being used as basically self identified personality traits with no limits, it has endless potential to cause problems, again all to appease a super small group of people that happen to be very loud. Being allowed to be weird should be a right, forcing other people to then treat you a certain way however, outside of basic rights, should not be a right.

                  That deer-kin is a real world example, other people on that Twitch board totally had to use whatever fuckn random pronouns that person demanded or risk punishment.

                  Clearly you have not had enough experience seeing these Twitter / Tumblr crowds to see just how prolific use of crazy town self identification is. I guess you haven’t seen enough non-binary lesbians with penises yet.
                  Ahh yes , furries….totally made up https://en.wikifur.com/wiki/List_of_conventions_by_attendance

                  The old “don’t let the gays marry or next it will be animals” argument was a poorly conceived thing, the problem is the trans movement straight up took it to that level because it has no limits conceptually. At least before you could say, hey we are only talking about specific humans and sexes here, now it is all sex and gender can be whatever you want it to be….enjoy!

                  For a good time look up Jessica Yaniv. Ol Jess may not be gender fluid or a massive group, but the difference between us is that you take the, “I’m not seeing it, it is not a problem approach” while I’m trying to say it is a problem which is going to lead unnecessarily to more problems.

                  What seems silly when just a Hollywood type problem, is not so funny when it turns into a real workplace concern https://www.today.com/popculture/sam-smith-responds-shawn-mendes-apology-wrong-pronoun-t203745
                  Can straight up lose your job accidentally calling someone “he” that obviously has a penis…

  5. Chris B says:

    Dear Australia and other woke countries,

    I would like to refer you these words of wisdom from Mark “Chopper” Reed as to how to get back on the right track as societies.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wLIEbzW4cDQ

  6. Ross B says:

    So they’re sunglasses now? Strange …

    • Sommerbiwak says:

      My first thought exactly, too. Well, I guess mirror aviators makes them all look cool after all. 😉

  7. DUSTOFF says:

    The irony here is that airman is not a gendered word, whereas aviator is a gendered word. Aviatrix being the female version of the word.

    • Sommerbiwak says:

      Please, you expect the people pushing this to understand latin? Or take a dictionary in hand to look it up?

  8. TFINOM says:

    Everytime I see any change to nomenclature I know I can come to the comment section to see snowflakes screaming about how this is the end of days.

    • Fighting over the air-people terms seems silly at first, until you realize those who prioritized this decision continue to promote changing the definition of racism and what even a man or woman are….

      • TFINOM says:

        I’m pretty sure the definition of racism is still “the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.”, just like its always been. I dont think anyone is changing that.

        • That is overall what most people think, but for a good time search “define racism” and you can see a little lower on the first page what kids are being taught in many universities.
          https://ready.web.unc.edu/section-1-foundations/sample-page-2/
          And no, this isn’t a look I found one weirdo school kind of thing, it is widespread.

          • TFINOM says:

            “social and institutional power PLUS racial prejudice” the sociological definition of racism is literally just prejudice paired with social and institutional power and is an important to understanding basic sociology.

            I’m not sure how adding the requirement for social and institutional power is really the radical alteration you seem to think it is. It’s pretty simple to define racism as bigotry paired with institutional power. It allows for there to be precise terminology to define two different social forces. If you want to describe racial discrimination backed by institutional power you use racism. If you want to describe racial discrimination that isnt backed by institutional power you use bigotry. I’m just not really understanding the problem here

            • I dunno if you just skimmed the link or what, but if you are cool with the new definition of racism being only possible by white people, then I guess that is your choice….. It isn’t presented as a racism variant, it is declared the new definition going out of its way to declare:
              Racism is NOT:
              racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination.
              “Racism is both a system of advantage (for whites) and a system of oppression (for BIPOC). The system was created to concentrate social and institutional power among those designated as “white,” and to exclude all others from receiving these benefits.”

              Which anyone with logic or even mere life experience, knows is crazy pants as the only reason to try and change the near universal classic definition of racism this way is to try and declare some races cannot be “racist”. We aren’t going to make progress when we have a good chunk of people starting their view as “yea well black people can’t be racist”

              • TFINOM says:

                That’s a really shallow understanding of the material. The whole point is to better understand socioeconomic forces at work. Is it really that big a deal to say that in predominantly white countries, white people can face bigotry but not racism, especially when racism has been defined as such? In countries where other ethnic groups are the majority and possess the institutional power those ethnic groups cant face racism just bigotry, it’s not that racism has been directly redefined as “people cant be racist against white people”, you’re just thinking that’s the case because you’re focusing on countries in which the political representation is overwhelmingly white (2017 data shows that in the US, at the time, 97% of elected republican officials were white and 79% of elected Democrat officials were white). This is like the Pluto not being a planet thing, where vocabulary has been developed to better describe something and people freak out because they dont understand the point of the more specific terminology. Is it really that big a deal to you to use the term bigotry instead of racism?

                • Bro….there is a bold outlined section that blast starts “Why is it problematic to define racism as interpersonal prejudice or bias based on race?”
                  This isn’t complicated, people can be racist with or without an institution. These new definition attempts have no valid purpose except for critical race theory people to try and win arguments with confusion of terms, but if you want to drink the kool-aid knowingly then that is your choice.
                  The result, classes and articles literally saying black people can’t be racist…. straight up the title, not just inferred.

                  Their goal includes this conversation right now, a dumb ass argument about confusion of terms over the term racism, which no one had any confusion about 6 years ago. Insisting the new word is bigot, a much more broad term is absolutely not an upgrade or a fix to anything.

                  • TFINOM says:

                    These terms weren’t invented to win arguments, they were invented to differentiate between two different sociological phenomenon.

                    I genuinely cant fathom your objection to having racism and bigotry be distinct concepts. Is the entire objection that a word got changed? If they had made up a new word from scratch to define racial prejudice with institutional support would you be okay with that? Or are you not okay with differentiating between racial prejudice and racial prejudice backed by institutional power?

                    Like is this a matter of “dont allow language to evolve because it confuses people” or are you objecting to a distinction being made period?

                    If they made up some random word like instiprejudicial or something to define racism supported by power would that be okay? Or would you dismiss it as a nonsense word.

                    • You clearly are lacking knowledge on critical race theory which includes the creators publicly declared intent of attempting to redefine racism.
                      The latest transitional word is institutional racism, which conceptually is a thing, but is a rampantly misused term.
                      We don’t gotta agree, I’m just trying to clarify there are other well meaning people that are being tricked into this redefining of racism being something we needed.
                      Most people thankfully still think racism can include: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism and does not require some institutional element.
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqqdmRUGoOA

              • TFINOM says:

                In fact I’d say specifically the commonly accepted academic definition absolutely doesnt say only white people can be racist. Within this academic definition any ethnic group that holds the majority of instituional power can be racist. There are plenty of countries where white people dont hold the majority of institutional power. There are huge complicated webs of racism in countries like China, Japan, Brazil, India etc where the people being racist are not white.

  9. Steve V says:

    I’m sure the RAAF maintainers, fuelers, engineers, life support specialists, air controllers, medics, security specialists, logisticians, communicators, fire fighters, and all others with non-flying jobs feel much more appreciated being called a term that has historically identified those who specifically perform flight duties.

    • LowSpeed says:

      +1 for a non- “The sky is falling” comment haha

      • Ed says:

        Grow up! Your handle should be “slow-speed” or no-speed.

        Pfft

        Gen-X and proud you fucking wanker!

      • TKS says:

        Glad the RAAF broke the barrier on this. Gen Miley, when can all the forces be “Special” Forces because we are all special? Long tabs and beret color of choice for everyone.

        I thought the complete disassociation from reality was only rewarded in America!

  10. Mike H. says:

    The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has been referring to those that operate aircraft as “Aviators” for over 100 years. That was to differentiate between the already existing duty of “Pilot” who guided ships through complicated approaches into port.

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