Ballina Coast High School year 8 student Mia Elks participates in the F18 hornett flight simulator.
Ballina Coast High School year 8 student Mia Elks participates in the F18 hornett flight simulator. Marc Stapelberg

Students find out what it's like to fly a RAAF fighter jet

"IT'S like a video game times 100, but you are inside the video game,” was how Ballina Coast High student Mia Elks described strapping in to a Royal Australian Air Force fighter jet simulator.

She was among the students lucky enough to strap in to the cockpit and fly a F/A-18F Super Hornet simulator at the school, as part of a state-wide recruitment drive.

The air force simulator is as close as you can get to flying without leaving the ground and provides a hands-on insight into the operation of Australia's front-line fighter and the RAAF.

It's two full size cockpits are just like front of the aircraft and the students are taught to use the controls to take off, fly around, shoot down a drone and land.

While only in Year 8, Mia said the experience made her feel like she could have a career in the air force.

"It's opened my mind up to it more,” she said.

"I am a navy cadet and I was thinking the air force would be pretty good as well.

"It's made me want to join a bit more and be a fighter pilot, for the experience. being trusted to fly planes by the government would be amazing.

"I think girls should definitely try it, it's not just for boys.”

Twenty-year-old RAAF pilot officer and trainer Elliotte Hyder said due to a low but rising number of female officers in training there was a focus on female recruiting within the drive.

"Girls have a higher skill level when it comes to air traffic control, they tend to score higher and do a lot better than they thought they would,” Ms Hyder said.

"Many people don't think that they have the guts to do it or have the ambition, but definitely give it a shot if you want to try it.

"It's very real, some kids get motion sickness in it, you have a 180 degree view of the scenery around you and because your body relies on your eyesight you tend to feel the motions. It does peak a few people's interest into wanting to join afterwards.”

She said her own journey into the Air Force was challenging.

"It took me a few years to get in but it was completely worth it,”she said.

"My passion comes from loving aviation theory and putting that into practice... it's also fun and I get to potentially help to defend the country.”