Home' Air Force News : September 15th 2011 Contents ARNHEM DRIFTER
September 15, 2011
FLTLT Trevor Grant
BEING separated from his wife and
children during Arnhem Drifter was
no teddy bear's picnic for balloon pilot
SQNLDR Phil O'Donnell, but luckily
he had a few friends to help him stay
connected with home.
Joining him on the journey across
the outback were three little teddy
bears to represent his three daugh-
ters, Emma, 13, Kate, 11 and Lisa, 9.
Deploying regularly means
SQNLDR O'Donnell is away from
home for more than 60 days a year.
So to help his children understand
that even though they are apart, he is
still thinking of them, he came up with
a cute idea to keep in touch.
He takes the teddy bears every-
where he deploys, capturing photos
of them along the way to send back to
his daughters so they can see where
he is, and in a small way, feel like they
are with him.
"When I first gave them to the
girls, we developed a tradition that
when I go away, I take the bears away
with me to represent each of them,"
SQNLDR O'Donnell said.
"I sit the bears on the dash and
take photos at different locations and
then email them back to the girls.
"They then feel as if they are part
of the trip; that I haven't left them and
they haven't left me.
"The children love the idea of the
bears, and having them with me and
photographing them everywhere I go
makes it easier for them to understand
that I am thinking of them all the time.
"It's like a holiday with them, an
adventure that keeps us close."
Three bungles of joy
More than 220 followers, 150 posts and
13,300 views of the pages during August.
CAN'T BEAR TO BE AWAY FROM YOU: While travelling near the Bungle Bungles, above, and
remote community Warmun, left, in Western Australia during Arnhem Drifter, SQNLDR Phil
O'Donnell captures a photo of the three teddy bears representing his daughters, Emma, Kate and
Lisa, to send home to the girls.
Photos: FSGT Glen McCarthy
Dear Air Force,
Thanks for coming to Halls Creek and fly the Air
Force and it was fun with the flames and flying
the big air balloons and it was good to have you
Lots of thanks, Mcphee Stretch
Congratulations on an awesome
adventure around the top end! Looks
like an amazing tour and some great
events. Love the photos and the
Michael Bannerman (former Air
Force Balloon pilot)
This was an awesome experience,
thank you to all the team that made it
Good to see kids having fun :-)
Great to see smiles on the kids faces.
Well done. U go guys; workin' yet
havin' an adventure, good luck and
Well done and thanks again for com-
ing to Longreach.
Well done Air Force Balloon Crew,
keep up the good work.
Thanks you for coming to
Halls Creek to show us the
air balloon. It was so fun
because we all had a ride in
the hot air balloon. And we
saw Red Hill and I was so
scared and it was so hot.
From Zenneth Jessell
This is for the Air Force.
Thanks to coming at Halls Creek
because all the kids liked the bal-
loon and you guys. From Kiemahl
Thanks for coming...
MCPHEE: Halls Creek District High School
student McPhee Stretch with SGT Terrance Bligh.
Photo: FSGT Glen McCarthy
KIEMAHL AND ZENNETH: Halls Creek children
Kiemahl, above, and Zeneth Jessell, above centre,
operate the balloon's burners.
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