Otago Man Revelling In Role As RNZAF Flying Instructor
11 June 2020
Flying is in the blood of Otago man Flight Lieutenant Tim Leslie – his grandmother and father were both pilots – and now he is flying C-130 Hercules aircraft in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
Flight Lieutenant Leslie, who attended John McGlashan College, learned to fly at the Otago Aero Club when he was 14. He joined the RNZAF at 18, completing his wings course on the CT-4 Air Trainer at RNZAF Base Ohakea.
He was back at Ohakea earlier this year as No. 40 Squadron conducted a tactical flying exercise with the C-130 Hercules. The two-week exercise gives pilots practice in skills such as low-level and tactical flying, cross-country and mountain flying, and parachuted air delivery of container loads, all of which are core to conducting safe military flying operations.
Flight Lieutenant Leslie said his current role instructing pilots on the C-130 Hercules meant he was responsible for ensuring pilots were fully qualified and ready to fly a range of missions.
“During the exercise at Ohakea earlier in the year I sat in the cockpit with the pilot and co-pilot so I could see exactly how they were flying, how they were conducting the manoeuvres and how they were responding to the different tests presented during the flight.
“The C-130 is the Air Force’s primary airlift aircraft. This means we need our aircrews to be proficient in all types of flying, because our missions take us around the world.
“This year already we’ve flown to the Pacific Islands, the Middle East and Asia. All these flights and locations present unique challenges and we have to be prepared.”
Flight Lieutenant Leslie, who always wanted to be a pilot, said his current role was particularly rewarding because he gets to see pilots improve.
“Flying a C-130 is the culmination of several years of training and progression across the Air Force fleet. The people I work with are passionate about doing a good job whatever the circumstance.
“A military career doesn’t appeal to everyone but for me it is my dream job.”
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