The Royal Australian Air Force has replaced the term ‘airmen’ with ‘aviators’ as it enters its second century. Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld revealed this change on 31 March, at a centenary dinner which hosted past and present aviators. 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,” 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.”

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.


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