Liz McConaghy is a former RAF Chinook crew member.
McConaghy was the longest-serving female crewman on the RAF Chinook Fleet, spanning a 17-year career on the aircraft.
Originally from a small town in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, she attended RAF Cranwell on her 19th birthday to begin her exciting career.
Aged 21, Liz was the youngest member of the aircrew to deploy to Iraq and the only female crew member on the Chinook wing for four years, so her story is entirely unique.
During her career, Liz undertook two deployments to Iraq and ten deployments to Helmand, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Herrick, which gave her an insightful and very personal perspective on war.
During her deployments, she survived not only a near-fatal wire strike onboard her CH47, but numerous enemy fire ‘contacts’ defending her crew by returning fire from both the M134 ‘Minigun’ and M60 weapons entrusted to her to operate.
However, her most significant honour of all her duties was serving on the Medical Emergency Response Team, or MERT, flying ambulance as it was more commonly known. This involved recovering wounded soldiers from the battlefield, often under fire.
Upon leaving the RAF in 2019, Liz slowly unravelled after a series of traumatic events compounding her PTSD. This led to her trying to end her life in Aug 2020.
She survived and went into the Veterans Mental Health care system to help her deal with her demons and finally lay the images she had seen on the battlefield to rest.
During this time, she began writing poetry and an autobiography to help her get her thoughts out of her head.
Chinook Crew Chick
Liz McConaghy’s autobiography ‘Chinook Crew Chick‘ was released in Sept 2022 and went to Amazon Bestseller within three weeks.
The book is an honest and humorous account of Liz’s ‘best of times and worst of times’ and how her experiences flying on the Chinook have changed and moulded her into the woman she has become.
From dodging bullets to saving soldiers and witnessing the brutality and loss of war, Liz discusses how she found herself bringing the battlefield home, despite her fighting days being over.
As a resillience speaker and mental health speaker, Liz’s story offers hope to those who have also found themselves in the darkest places and are looking for the tools within themselves to begin rebuilding a pathway to a new life.
She is now an ambassador for mental health and specifically PTSD among Veterans.
Liz exemplifies that PTSD does not have to be your identity. It can simply be a chapter of your life that can be learned from and, most importantly, moved on from.