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Pilots and Helicopter Loadmasters Graduate at Ohakea

The graduates received their brevets from Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark in front of proud family, friends and fellow RNZAF personnel.

Air Vice-Marshal Clark congratulated the graduates on their commitment and skills.

“You can wear your brevets with a sense of accomplishment and as a reminder of the high standard you have achieved,” he said.

“From here on your careers will continue to be demanding, rewarding and at times exhilarating.”

Managing risk was a core part of the military aviation profession, he said.

“Sometimes the challenges you encounter will be uncomfortable, inconvenient and will require sacrifice. That’s why we draw on our military values of courage, commitment and comradeship.”

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Sword of Honour was awarded to Flying Officer Jason Anderson as the graduate who achieved a distinguished pass in all phases of the course. He was also awarded the De Lange Trophy, awarded to the pilot who gained the highest final flying mark on graduation from pilot training.

Pilot Officer James Robertson-Bickers received the Wigram Trophy, awarded to the pilot who graduated with the highest final academic mark.

The new pilots, six of whom are in the RNZAF and one in the Royal New Zealand Navy, will be posted either to the RNZAF helicopter fleet, where they will train on the 109 light utility helicopter at No. 3 Squadron, or to No. 42 Squadron to train on the  fixed-wing Beechcraft King Air 350.

The helicopter pilots will then go on to fly the NH90 medium utility helicopter or SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopters at No. 3 or No. 6 Squadron respectively, while the fixed-wing pilots will go on fly either the C-130H(NZ) Hercules or Boeing 757-2K2 at No. 40 Squadron, or the P-3K2 Orion at No. 5 Squadron at Base Auckland.

The helicopter loadmasters will work as air crew for either the A109 or NH90 aircraft at No 3 Squadron at Base Ohakea.

Graduates’ Biographies - Pilots Course:

Flying Officer Jason Anderson
Flying Officer Anderson grew up in Whanganui. He attended Massey University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Aviation majoring in air transport pilot. During his studies he completed a flight instructor’s course, then worked as a flight instructor for Massey University.

Seeking a more exciting day-to-day job, Flying Officer Anderson joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in July 2016 and started his wings course in August 2017.

Pilot Officer Hayley Vincent
Pilot Officer Vincent grew up in Christchurch and attended Lincoln High School. After High School she attended Canterbury University for one year, studying biochemistry and physics, and completed Outward Bound.

She joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in January 2017 to begin training and started her wings course in August 2017.

Pilot Officer Brandon Marr
Pilot Officer Marr spent most of his childhood in Auckland, where he went to Auckland Grammar School for his later years of high school. He finished school and had a gap year, where he completed Outward Bound and went travelling.

He Joined the RNZAF in July 2016 and began his wings course in August 2017.

Flying Officer Cody Hughes
Flying Officer Hughes grew up in Southland and attended James Hargest High school. Following this he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as an Avionics Technician, where he worked on No. 40 and No. 6 Squadrons at RNZAF Base Auckland, reaching the rank of corporal.

He applied to become a pilot in 2015, beginning his wings course in August 2017. 

Sub Lieutenant Kent Wheeler
Sub Lieutenant Wheeler grew up on a farm in south Auckland. He began a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Auckland while applying to join the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

He joined the RNZN in January 2016 and began his pilot training in August 2017.

Flying Officer J. Robertson-Bickers
Flying Officer Robertson-Bickers grew up in Auckland and attended Pakuranga College, before studying at University of Auckland. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering with Honours. He worked as a process development engineer before joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2016, and began pilot training in August 2017.

Flying Officer Benjamin Johnson
Flying Officer Johnson grew up in Wellington and joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2011 as a medic. After graduating from the Defence Health School with a Graduate Diploma in Health Science he was posted to Base Medical Flight in RNZAF Base Auckland, where he served for three years. During this time he deployed on numerous operations and exercises domestically and internationally. Following his interest in aircraft he specialised in Aviation Medicine and Aeromedical Evacuation.

He commissioned in 2017 to retrain as a pilot and soon after was posted to No. 14 Squadron to start pilot training.

Helicopter Basic Course:

Acting Corporal Drew Manning
Acting Corporal Manning grew up in Feilding and attended Feilding High School. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in May 2017 as a Helicopter Loadmaster under training. Upon completion of his recruit course he completed various combined aircrew courses, as well as Aviation Medicine and Survival Training. Then he completed Air Movements Phase 1, working in air movements operations at RNZAF Base Auckland and the Rongotai Air Movements Terminal in Wellington. He began his Helicopter Basic Course in August 2018.

Acting Corporal Alex Shepherd
Acting Corporal Shepherd grew up on the Hibiscus Coast and attended Orewa College. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in May 2017 as a Helicopter Loadmaster under training. He went on to complete his recruit course and various combined aircrew courses, as well as Aviation Medicine and Survival Training. He completed Air Movements Phase 1 training and worked in air movements operations at RNZAF Base Auckland and then the Rongotai Air Movements Terminal in Wellington. He began his Helicopter Basic Course in August 2018.

Acting Corporal Adam Brown
Acting Corporal Brown grew up in Dannevirke and attended Totara College. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in September 2017 as a Helicopter Loadmaster under training. After completing his recruit course he was posted to No. 42 Squadron at RNZAF Base Ohakea, then completed various combined aircrew courses, as well as Aviation Medicine and Survival Training. He began his Helicopter Basic Course in August 2018.

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