Ian Rowan is the new CEO of RACQ-CQ Rescue. He has an extensive background in aviation including time in the RAF.
Ian Rowan is the new CEO of RACQ-CQ Rescue. He has an extensive background in aviation including time in the RAF. Shakira Sellen

Former pilot takes over as RACQ CQ Rescue CEO

HE could fly a plane before he could drive a car, so it shouldn't be a surprise Ian Rowan is now the chief executive officer of a helicopter rescue service.

Mr Rowan, who began work with RACQ-CQ Rescue this week, has been in the aviation industry since he was a teen.

"I was very lucky. When I was 16 I won a scholarship from the Royal Air Force and they taught me to fly," he said.

"So I had a pilot's licence before a driving licence in the UK.

"After I finished schooling I had the opportunity to go in the air force and I was very lucky I ended up flying fighter aircraft - Phantom F4.

"After I left (the RAF) I was a flying instructor and I got satisfaction out of teaching people to fly as well."

Mr Rowan doesn't fly planes any more but said he would think about getting involved with a flying club in the future.

His passions include aviation, public safety and the community.

"What excited me about this role is that it has the aviation side, the public safety... I'm qualified in emergency management..."

Mr Rowan relocated to Australia from the United Kingdom in 1994.

He has previously worked in regional Queensland, including Bundaberg, and has held positions including Special Olympic Committee chairman and founding director of the Queensland-based charity Safe Streets.

He has also worked in the public safety arena for all major events in Melbourne, including the Commonwealth Games.

Funding was an ongoing challenge for RACQ-CQ Rescue, Mr Rowan said and helicopters were an "extremely expensive aircraft to operate".

"I think even though we'll have a challenge for doing more and more work I think the community will respond by giving us more donations that will keep us going.

"It's pretty obvious, the strong community and corporate support for CQ Rescue, and that's very heartening.

"It's quite a challenge for the crews, but it's a challenge for the staff support team to make sure we're adequately funded."

The rescue service covers an area the size of Tasmania, from Bowen to St Lawrence, which includes the majority of the Bowen and Galilee basins and the Whitsunday Islands.

Last year was a record year for the organisation; 573 tasks were performed.

"It's anticipated that we will be even busier in 2017 and beyond," Mr Rowan said.

After briefly visiting Mackay for meetings previously, Mr Rowan is looking forward to the lifestyle Mackay offers.

He has been settling into his new home in the Northern Beaches.

RACQ-CQ Rescue board chairman Chris Wright said Mr Rowan had extensive experience and knowledge in the not-for-profit sector, risk mitigation and event management.

"Ian's vast range of skills will ensure CQ Rescue's mission to deliver the most cost-effective, reliable, safe and clinically excellent patient rescue and transfer service will continue to be achieved," Mr Wright said.

Former CEO Martin Cleland resigned in late September last year after three years in the top job.

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