Page 1

Flood Evacuation Flight

Joining the Australian Fire Fight

Whakaari/White Island Disaster Response

Flying Vaccinations to Samoa

#2 2 2


Contents 04

South Island Flood Evacuations


Joining the Fire Fight





Future P-8 Instructors in the States

First Word



Invictus Games

28 Innovation

30 Tauranga Air Display


22 32 Sport

33 Notices

34 Photo of the Month

Court Martial Guilty Verdict


Whakaari/White Island: Deployment to Disaster


Measles Emergency Response

OUR MISSION The RNZAF will provide New Zealand with relevant, responsive and effective Air Power to meet its security interests.

OUR VISION An agile and adaptive Air Force with the versatility essential for NZDF operations.

COVER: Photo: Joining the Australian fire fight PHOTOGRAPHER: A/CPL Dillon Anderson

Published by Defence Public Affairs HQ NZ Defence Force Wellington, New Zealand Editor Rebecca Quilliam Email: airforcenews@nzdf.mil.nz Design and Layout Defence Public Affairs Printed by Bluestar Private Bag 39996, Wellington Distribution Email: airforcenews@nzdf.mil.nz Editorial contributions and ideas are welcomed. They can be emailed directly to the Editor and do not need to be forwarded through normal command chains.


NH90 Rescue Thanks



2 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

Contribution deadline for the April issue 15 March, 2020 Contributions need to include • writer’s name, rank and unit • photos provided separate from the text – at least 300dpi. Air Force News will hold the copyright for submitted articles or photographs it publishes. Articles and photographs published in Air Force News cannot be published elsewhere without permission. ISSN 1175–2327


First Word L

ast month’s Air Force News showcased a cross section of our amazing Air Force talent and the incredible accomplishments and successes they have had. These talented people all had two things in common; first they had a drive to succeed but second was that they all worked in an organisation that provided the environment for them to flourish. Sometimes I think we can miss the opportunities we have every day but there are plenty on the horizon. That is why for this month’s First Word I would like to ask you to take a moment to think about the new changes that are coming and the opportunities that these capabilities will provide us all.



“It is the challenges we face that define who we are.”

Although 2019 will be remembered as the year that marked many positive announcements for the Air Force, 2020 is the year where the rubber hits the road and the changes start to take shape. We have recently seen the departure of the first of our P-8A Poseidon crews and their families as they head away to Florida to become the first of our aircrew instructor team. Then last month work commenced on the construction of the new Airborne Surveillance and Maritime Patrol Force buildings in Ohakea.

These are critical decisions that will affect us all and it is therefore important to get them right which is why they are not being rushed. We understand that without having a clear plan, the excitement of the future can be overshadowed by uncertainty in the present and that can sometimes be unsettling. We cannot allow this to be our focus and if we face each change in a positive manner we will always find the opportunity to prosper. We have a reputation as a nation for making things work and as an Air Force we take immense pride in our history of succeeding no matter what we are faced with. It is our ability to take on challenges and overcome them that defines us. This is an organisation that I continue to be immensely proud to belong to and I look forward to being a positive part of the change that will create the environment for the next generation to prosper and succeed. We have been given an incredible opportunity to define our future and I know you all will have the courage to make and positively embrace the changes we need to succeed. Tū Kaha, Tū Tika, Tū Tira, Tū Māia

These are the first steps in our next generation Air Force, but they were the easy decisions to make as they were the clear things that had to happen. The next phase will see us faced with more complex decisions as we ultimately determine the shape of the Air Force we want to see in 2025 and beyond.

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 3

|  O P E R AT I O N S

NH90 Flood Evacuations B Y


4 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

O P E R AT I O N S   |

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 5

|   O P E R AT I O N S

When Southland was struck by major flooding last month, forcing the evacuation of thousands from their homes, an NH90 was called in to help out some of the most vulnerable residents.


bout 20 residents and carers from a rest home in Wyndham were flown to Invercargill Hospital as the flooding reached its peak. The NH90 also assessed damage in the area. Among the passengers evacuated was a 102-year-old man, believed to be the oldest to ever fly in a No. 3 Squadron helicopter. “He was pretty good about the whole thing,” helicopter loadmaster Sergeant Phil Delaney said. The crew also brought on board a couple of dogs, some oxygen bottles and support equipment. “It was quite difficult for them – some had serious mobility issues, however the crew and community worked together and got it done. “It was a special deployment for us to make sure these people were safe. Then the hospital staff at the other end were really helpful,” he said. Alongside the NH90, the New Zealand Defence Force also deployed two Unimog vehicles and personnel to help with the thousands of evacuations in the area.

6 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

The flooding triggered landslides that cut off access to a number of places and forced a state of emergency to be declared for the region. NZDF liaison officers worked with Civil Defence Emergency Management Southland to coordinate tasks for the NZDF personnel and resources as part of the civil defence emergency in the region. NH90 pilot Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Andrew Stewart said they also delivered some food and water to where it was needed and flew some recces with the Civil Defence Emergency Management team. “The following day we flew the Minister of Civil Defence around the area,” he said. “The flooding was huge and we could see how difficult it will be for the farmers in the months ahead with land covered in water and baleage that had floated away. There were also bridges that had been taken out by the floods. It was quite a sight.”

O P E R A T I O N S  |

“The residents came to the helicopter in their wheelchairs and we had to lift them out and get them on board.” – Sergeant Phil Delaney

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 7

| O P E R AT I O N S

“There was some very important work done very quickly by all those involved from different organisations, and lives were saved.” - Squadron Leader Chris Ross

8 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

O P E R A T I O N S  |

Whakaari/White Island: Deployment to Disaster On December 9 last year, 47 people were visiting the volcanic island Whakaari/ White Island, when it violently erupted. Tragically, eight people were killed in the blast and another 13 died from their injuries in the days and weeks following the disaster.


wenty-six others suffered injuries including severe burns.

Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Chris Ross from No. 3 Squadron said when the information about the disaster came through two NH90 helicopters with medical staff on board were immediately directed by Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand to deploy to Whakatane. The injured people had already been brought to the mainland and the NH90s were tasked with flying some of them to Hutt Hospital for treatment. “The trauma that people had experienced was well beyond what anybody had seen, from a military point of view,” he said. Later in the week planning was started into a recovery mission, which also involved the NH90s, SQNLDR Ross said. “Because we were up there for multiple days, we took maintenance support, fuel support and we had Security Forces – so our own mini task unit.’’

SQNLDR Ross was the NH90 detachment commander and the air liaison officer in the Emergency Operations Centre in Whakatane. During the NZ Police-led planning sessions, SQNLDR Ross was working with other Defence Force personnel, NZ Police, local marine operators, a volcanologist and a chemist. “Given the nature of the task it was important to have all that expertise in the room.’’ A detailed plan was put together for a specialist Defence Force team to go ashore on Whakaari/White Island and recover the bodies of six people who had tragically died in the eruption. The role of the NH90 was to fly the bodies to nearby HMNZS Wellington before they were then flown to Whakatane and then on to victim identification teams in Auckland.

“I think everyone did an incredible job. Like everyone involved, our NH90 crew felt an enormous pressure to make sure the mission was completed well,” SQNLDR Ross said. Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the recovery operation had been well planned but was not without risk. “We cannot downplay the risk involved in this operation and I acknowledge the efforts of all those who placed themselves potentially in danger to achieve a result for the families and community. “Our personnel feel a keen sense of duty and join to serve New Zealand. It is this sense of duty that sees them willing to undertake operations like this, understanding the risks involved.”


Whakaari/White Island after the deadly eruption ABOVE

NH90 delivering patients to Hutt Hospital

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 9

O P E R A T I O N S  |

Maintenance in an Unknown Environment B Y


10 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

|  O P E R AT I O N S

Immediately after the eruption on Whakaari/White Island No. 6 Squadron Seasprite crews were tasked by Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand to embark on HMNZS Wellington as part of NZDF’s support to the Police-led response to the disaster.

NZDF SUPPORT TO THE NZ POLICE-LED RESPONSE INCLUDED: • Air surveillance by the P-3K2 Orion, NH90 helicopter support, including patient transfers, and air transport by an A109 helicopter • HMNZS Wellington and SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopters, which carried out surveillance and support • Personnel from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron with their specialist hazardous material equipment and training • Mortuary affairs and disaster victim identification teams assisted civil authorities in Whakatane and Auckland • Personnel from the Deployable Joint Interagency Task Force performed command and control functions in support of the recovery efforts


e’d just got back from a six-week offshore deployment and on our first day back at work we were called in by the Commanding Officer and asked how quickly would we be able to be on the ship,” aircraft technician Flight Sergeant (F/S) Tails Taylor said. By the early hours of the next morning, the ship, with an embarked Seasprite and crew, was on station about 4,000m off the island, coming in to about 400m when patrolling off the area. Over the following days, Seasprites were sent up to capture reconnaisance imagery of the island, providing valuable information for the recovery efforts. “We were operating in an unknown environment, with the volcano active and expelling steam and sulphur gas into the atmosphere,” F/S Taylor said.

The maintainers worked long, hard days to keep the helicopters serviceable in the difficult conditions, and F/S Taylor said that everyone in the crew “knew how important it was to complete the task.” After inspecting the engines, the maintainers routinely flushed the area with a chemical wash to clean any last remaining contaminants, including sulphur and ash. One of the tasks the Seasprites were involved with was flying the bodies recovered from Whakaari/White Island one at a time back to Whakatane after they had been delivered to Wellington. “It was a tragedy, but I was pleased to be able to help. It’s what we train for,” F/S Taylor said.

“We were making sure there weren’t any engine issues relating to sulphur build-up. “Because it’s quite a corrosive environment, we carried out conditionsbased monitoring to ensure the sensors, the engines and anything internal with the helicopter remained functioning as it should.”


Squadron maintainers working on the Seasprites during the Whakaari/White Island response LEFT

A Seasprite departs HMNZS Wellington ahead of a reconnaissance tasking in support of the White Island response

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 11

Joining the Fire Fight

F E AT U R E   |

Following an intensive drought and record-breaking high temperatures, the fire season in Australia has been brutal. Infernos lasting months stretched our neighbour’s resources and the New Zealand Defence Force willingly deployed personnel and assets to help. Air Force personnel who answered the call tell Air Force News about the hellish conditions.

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 13

|  F E AT U R E

Australian Fires: View from the Ground

Since September last year massive bush fires have been destroying millions of hectares of land across the dry plains of Australia. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, more than two dozen people killed and more than a billion animals have died or been affected by the flames and dense, thick smoke.

14 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222


he largest blazes were along the eastern and southern coast.

The Air Force sent across firefighters, air and ground crews, three NH90 helicopters, a Boeing 757 and a C-130 Hercules in response to a request for help from the Australian Government. Among the firefighters deployed to the arid continent over the past months were Corporal (CPL) Matty Cameron, CPL Jonathan McGovern and CPL Carlotta Dalton-Harvey. They worked to contain the blazes, sometimes working up to 20-hour days, in air clogged with thick smoke and watching massive flames encroach towards communities and containment lines.

F E AT U R E   |

“We were driven up to a certain point and then would trek through steep vegetation, in dense terrain. We would cut a fire break with hand tools and trek out at the end of the day.” – Corporal Jonathan McGovern

“Our role was to maintain boundaries to contain the fire. We were running containment lines and protecting those as well,” CPL Cameron said.

CPL McGovern said his deployment began with protecting properties, houses and assets, before more arduous firefighting on steep terrain.

In one day alone, the team backburned about 2,000 hectares.

“At one stage we worked in a rainforest, which the fire was advancing into. This was a crucial task, due to the significant amount of wildlife there, as well as the rainforest itself.

“I’ve never seen anything like the scale of these fires before,” he said. “Each day we drove two hours inland towards the fire front. At night we could see the front advancing to where we had done our back-burning. It was just so massive – the whole horizon was one big burning line.” Local communities in danger of the flames showed the firefighting teams their gratitude by providing food, water and ice blocks to them. A typical day would see the firefighters up at 6am and sometimes not returning until about 3am the following day.

“There’s not any way to avoid the smoke as it settles densely in the air. Even with Personal Protective Equipment it can still find a way to sting your eyes or sear your throat. On those days you get back and blow your nose only to find you snort out ash,” CPL McGovern said.


SSGT Dan Klaassen conducting multi agency liaison with FENZ, NSW Rural Fire, and NSW Forestry to organise the day’s work for the NZ Strike force CENTRE

A helicopter loadmaster looks out over the charred earth RIGHT

NZDF Contingent monitoring a back burn to ensure the fire doesn’t just across containment lines

“I don’t think people quite understand the large scale of Queensland and New South Wales and the area that was affected. It is so vast and that’s why they had so many problems keeping the fires under control.”

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 15

|  F E AT U R E

“ I think it was just reassuring for the residents that we were there and they could see our lights and they knew we were there looking out for them.” – Corporal Carlotta Dalton-Harvey



Air Force personnel deployed

180 hours flown 42 missions 16 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

CPL Dalton-Harvey spent a week of her deployment on night shift patrolling farming areas, dampening hotspots and monitoring any fires that were burning up to the roads. “We were also checking in with the people who were still in their homes, just making sure they were all okay and they had supplies and water sources. “It was that whole minds and hearts thing – the fact that we were just in the area with the firetruck. They were all up all night being on fire watch – the husband would go to sleep for a few hours while the wife watched and then they switched over,” she said.

The second week of CPL DaltonHarvey’s deployment saw the team take on backburning towards the head of the fire in forestry areas. “There were a couple of farm houses dotted throughout the area, so we were making sure the fires were going around them rather than straight through them.” CPL Dalton-Harvey described it as “eerie” driving through the forests with huge smoke and ash clouds hanging over the top of them. “It dulls everything. It painted the sky a dark colour,” she said. “The last night we were there was the worst. It was a 16-hour day and we were supposed to be leaving

F E AT U R E   |

Kiwis happy to share the loads B Y


Similar equipment and procedures make the process of integrating into other Air Load Teams much easier than one might think.


hat’s why Royal New Zealand Air Force Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Emily Hall and her team of three Leading Aircraftsmen were able to hit the ground running at No. 23 Squadron’s Air Movements Terminal within 24-hours of arriving at Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley in Ipswich, Queensland. “We watched the impact of the bushfires and felt powerless” FLTLT Hall said, speaking on behalf of her Mobile Air Load Team (MALT). After seeing the devastating Australian bushfires from neighbouring New Zealand, FLTLT Hall and her team were quick to act when they were given the opportunity to support Operation Bushfire Assist. the area but it was decided we should backburn our way out. The wind picked up as we started and we couldn’t see a metre in front of us – it was just thick smoke coming across the road. “We had all our protective gear on, but our eyes and noses were stinging and running with all the smoke around us. That night was pretty rough.”


New Zealand strike force crew hiking back to vehicles to begin back burning after conducting the back burning preparation RIGHT

SGT Josh Nahi conducting an intense back burn in NSW Bulga Forrest National Park

“Everyone in my team is always eager to help. They were all on leave when I called them, but everyone flew out to Australia the next day.” Temporarily accommodated at RAAF Base Amberley and working from the base’s Air Movement’s Terminal, FLTLT Hall and her team felt right at home. “The procedures are the same, the culture’s the same, even the banter’s the same – it’s like being at home,” she said. “Only this time, we can do our job, do what we’re good at whilst actually having a positive impact on Operation Bushfire Assist.” As a major part of the efficient and effective movement of personnel and materiel to support Air Force’s activities, operations and exercises, Aircraft Load Teams working from Amberley

have been running two shifts a day and working eight to 10 hours per shift. As the Officer in Charge of No. 23 Squadron’s Air Movements Section, Flying Officer (FGOFF) Megan Ryan witnessed the NZ MALT integrate seamlessly with the squadron’s Air Load Teams from day one. “It is excellent having the NZ MALT working here within our Air Movements Section,” FGOFF Megan Ryan said. “It’s great to see how seamlessly our Australian and New Zealand teams work together as coalition allies. We are very grateful for New Zealand ’s support and assistance throughout this time.” While the deployment was an opportunity for her team to upskill, FLTLT Hall said the real reward was the opportunity to help out in this time of need. “All our training, all the courses and all the exercises are worth it because we’re actually able to help people in need,” she said. “Even though we’re not on the front line, it’s still tangible the satisfaction we’re getting because we’re seeing all the freight moving to areas in need. “It definitely makes you proud to be a Kiwi.” 

(L– R)

RNZAF Leading Aircraftman Fahim Imam with RAAF Leading Aircraftman Benjamin Lee at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland Photo: Australian Defence Force

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 17

|  F E AT U R E

Fire Fight from the Skies

Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Chris Ross said the NH90 teams were able to assemble quickly once they had arrived and could take over from exhausted Australian squadrons that had been working hard for months.

A fleet of Air Force aircraft took to the Australian skies to join the fire relief efforts. Three NH90 helicopters, a C-130 Hercules and a Boeing 757 were all deployed across the Tasman.

“Our first taskings were looking for fires and doing fuel drops. There were quite a few regions around New South Wales where fires had cut the roads off, so there were a lot of communities where authorities did not know how they had coped.

18 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

“Some jobs were to fly to these communities to see if they had survived. Nine times out of 10 the communities had escaped damage.” One mission was to fly fuel out to a rural farm about two hours away. When the crew arrived they saw a blaze closing in on the property. It turned out the fuel the crew had delivered was vital to feed the water pump to fight the flames, he said.

“Literally, this fuel saved the farm.” The environment the teams faced was extreme. “Things happen pretty fast in Australia. One day in Nowra it was 40 degrees, with 40 knot winds, the sky was black with tinted orange, burning leaves were falling from the sky and fires were spooling up. Two days earlier it looked like we could have gone home.” NH90 pilot Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Andrew Stewart said the biggest challenge as a pilot was the reduced visibility in the smoke. Trapped by inversion, the smoke would be up to 200km away from the fire itself, with visibility down to one to two kilometres, he said. “The unpredictability of the smoke was also a challenge as well as around the fires themselves there were extra hazards of other fire bombing and spotting aircraft. I’ve never worked on anything on this scale.”

F E AT U R E   |

The C-130 Hercules carried out a number of tasks during the deployment, including transporting firefighting foam to emergency services working to contain fires on Kangaroo Island. Air Loadmaster Warrant Officer (W/O) Raewyn Ansell was part of the team that delivered the foam.

C-130 pilot FLTLT Max Longdill said the extensive training New Zealand and Australia do together helped them to fit seamlessly into the operation. “We just fit in and became an extra aircraft for them.” Most of the flying was transporting Australian Army personnel, he said.

“The fire suppressant was packed in four pellets and we took over two loads weighing about 12,700kg each. It didn’t take up a lot of space, but it was very heavy.”

“There were a couple of days where the thick smoke made visibility too low to land, but we were just about always able to get the Australians to where they needed to be.”

It was good to be able to help in Australia during such a trying time, W/O Ansell said.

A Boeing also joined the deployment, transporting Republic of Fiji Military Forces to Australia to join the Australian Defence Force-led efforts on the bushfires.

“It’s the most rewarding work and I’m pleased we can help in some way. Lots of people, when they saw us in uniform, would come up to us and say ‘thank you’.”


An NH90 conducting resupply missions in the Gippsland region, Victoria TOP LEFT

NH90s returning to base Ohakea via a Royal Canadian Air Force C-17 RIGHT

Helicopter loadmaster Corporal Tom Hanson prepares winching equipment on an NH90 helicopter in Canberra BOTTOM LEFT

A soldier from the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, is winched from an NH90 helicopter in the Canberra region Photos: Australian Defence Force

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 19

|   O P E R AT I O N S

Measles Emergency Response “ We’re glad we can do something to help our Pacific neighbours and our thoughts are with everyone affected.” – Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour

A measles outbreak in Samoa late last year resulted in more than 5,700 cases and 83 deaths and prompted emergency flights by Air Force aircraft to deliver thousands of vaccinations and medical equipment to the country.


he Samoan Government declared a state of emergency and by the end of the crisis more than three percent of the country had been infected.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF was prepared to do everything it could to support the Government’s response to the epidemic.

A C-130 Hercules took an oxygen generator, oxygen compressors, condensers and bottles to Samoa, following an urgent request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

The emergency mission prompted a letter of thanks for the Air Force’s “tremendous effort” from UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The aircraft and crew then flew to Nadi in Fiji to pick up 50,000 measles and rubella vaccines provided by UNICEF for the Samoan Government’s vaccination programme.


A C-130 Hercules collects 50,000 measles and rubella vaccines in Nadi, Fiji. Photo: UNICEF/Infinity Images Fiji

20 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

A Boeing 757 also transported to Samoa 2,784kg of medical stores, including hand sanitiser, chilly bins for vaccine transportation, vaccine fridges, power supplies for the fridges and 150 cartons of medical supplies.

“On behalf of everyone at UNICEF, I am writing to express my thanks and appreciation for the tremendous efforts of the Royal New Zealand Air Force in supporting UNICEF’s delivery of 50,000 doses of critically needed measles vaccinations from Fiji to Samoa,” Ms Fore wrote. “I understand that diverting a C-130 is no small effort! But thanks to your quick action, these vaccines arrived safely at a time when no commercial flights were available,” she said.


America Bound B Y


Eight No. 5 Squadron personnel and their families have traded the city of sails for the golden sands of Florida as they begin a three-year deployment working with P-8A Poseidon aircraft.


he group will be the Air Force’s future instructors when the P-8As arrive in the country in 2022.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the team will spend the first six months qualifying to fly on the aircraft, then take an instructor’s course before instructing with the US Navy. They reckon the change of scenery will do them the world of good. Air Warfare Specialist Flight Sergeant (F/S) Nick Rowe has been a part of No. 5 Squadron for 13 years and is excited by the new challenge. “I’m most looking forward to a change of scenery and just seeing how another maritime patrol community operate their aircraft and how they go about doing business. “It’s something I wanted to do when I found out we were getting the P-8As. I was very keen to get over there and start flying it. It’s quite rewarding that it’s come to this and I’m excited to be heading over,” F/S Rowe said. Pilot, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Byron Wagstaff said the group was in a “unique position” as part of the first New Zealand crew to operate the P-8A. “We’re all looking forward to flying the first frame home in late 2022.”

Travelling with FLTLT Wagstaff are his wife Michelle and two daughters aged three and nine-months-old. “Michelle is an avid traveller so the opportunity to travel and explore so close to home is appealing. Disney World just down the road will be a highlight I’m sure for the girls,” he said. Air Warfare Officer Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Ben Smith was looking forward to the change of pace and scenery. Also travelling with his wife and daughters, aged five and one, SQNLDR Smith said his family was excited to start the adventure. “My five-year-old is feeling excited and anxious. She’s got her own map of America on her bedroom wall and has been looking at where she’s going and is excited about meeting new people and seeing new places.” After working the last few years in Joint Forces New Zealand Headquarters, SQNLDR Smith said he was excited about learning about the P-8A. “I haven’t been on the tools for a couple of years, so that’s going to be a steep learning curve, but I couldn’t think of a better thing to be doing. And I’m going over with seven very capable, nice and fun people.”

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 21

Push to the Limit B Y


Competing in CrossFit events means Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Varshti Willis needs to train regardless of whether she is near a gym or not.


train most days for at least an hour. It’s hard when I’m deployed away and I don’t have access to the usual gym equipment, so I have to be a bit creative.” Last year LAC Willis was sent to Dip Flat at the base of the St Arnaud Range for a mountain-flying exercise. She lugged with her 23kg weights to keep up her training, as well as running physical training sessions for the other personnel. The 31-year-old medic, based at Ohakea, competed in last year’s National competition, with her team placing a respectable 15th overall. The latest event she competed in, this time with colleague and fellow CrossFit enthusiast LAC Laura Tumata, was a formidable three-day challenge called Judgement Day.

She began the sport in 2012 when she was a personal trainer and thought it was a “good challenge”. She then joined the Air Force, but an injury to her lower legs meant LAC Willis had to take a break from the hard workouts until two years ago. “It’s challenging, which is what I love about it. I’m more of a fan of the strength aspect rather than the running.” CrossFit was an ideal sport to fit in with her role in the Air Force, which encourages keeping fit as part of the job, LAC Willis said. Each year she chooses three or four cross-fit events to train for. The next big one is the National competition, held in Cambridge in October. “It’s the biggest event of the year and it will be lots of hard work, but I’m looking forward to it.”

“It involved eight workouts over three days. It was a mixture of weightlifting, gymnastics, running, biking and an obstacle course. We came sixth,” LAC Willis said.

“I can easily fit training in around work when I’m on base, it’s just harder when I go into the field.”

22 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

# F A C E S O F Y O U R F O R C E  |

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 23

|  O P E R AT I O N S

Search and Rescue success earns thanks B Y


An early morning rescue of a group of children and an adult, stuck in a narrow gorge in the early hours of the morning in terrible weather conditions, has earned a No. 3 Squadron crew a heartfelt thank you from the families and rescue personnel.

24 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222


he five children, aged between 11 and 16 and an adult, all wearing only togs, were stranded for seven hours in the Hutt River Gorge on December 29. When they failed to return to their families at nearby Kaitoke Campground that evening, police were contacted and a search was coordinated. Constable Rochelle Andrews from Search and Rescue (SAR) Wellington and a dog handler and search dog found the group trapped by the river. Constable Andrews was able to swim each of them to safety, but the group was exhausted and freezing and unable to walk out on their own. About 1.30am, an NH90 crew was called in to assist with the SAR. With low cloud, rain and strong wind, in a narrow gorge, the conditions could not have been worse, NH90 pilot Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Andrew Stewart said. “But we train for these situations and that training kicked in. We’re pretty lucky with the NH90 in how it’s designed and how it can handle the turbulence – it’s also got extra power.” Medic Corporal Kim Gilbert was lowered to the group and she was able to get them winched into the helicopter. It was a tight gorge and the helicopter hovered for about 40 minutes during the mission. After arriving at the camping ground, conditions had worsened too much for the helicopter to fly back to Base Ohakea, so the crew stayed overnight there. “It was pretty cool to see the kids the next day. In the morning the family came and said thanks. The SAR team that met them did a great job in keeping them safe and carrying them across the river,” FLTLT Stewart said. The rescue has prompted a thank you letter from Constable Andrews and the families involved.

“I would like to pass my sincere thanks to all the crew, particularly as I understand they had already operated for long hours that day.” – Constable Rochelle Andrews

“It was fantastic for the group (and us) to hear that the NH90 was available and on the way,” she said. “The group was extremely happy to hear the helicopter, though the children were very scared by the prospect of being winched up out of the gorge. “The only winch site was an area of boulders sticking out of the river, and the person who came down to manage the winching looked like she took a series of pretty hard hits on rocks as she landed each time on the less than ideal site. Despite this she arrived with a big smile and made the children feel as safe and secure as possible as they were winched.” The SAR team watching from the river was impressed with the long and accurate hover in the dark, which must have required intense concentration, Constable Andrews said. The families of the people rescued also thanked everyone involved for the successful mission. “You guys were absolutely amazing and we can’t thank you enough for bringing our kids safely home to us after their adventures up the wrong river. We are forever grateful for the commitment you put into the rescue. Yours gratefully, The Paterson/Hodges and Pikari Families.” AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 25



Flight Sergeant Andrea McNabb MIDDLE

Flight Sergeant Mike Cotton RIGHT

Lance Corporal Rocky Kenmare

Finding Strength at Invictus B Y


Flight Sergeant Stacey Adam woke up one morning in June 2018 unable to speak coherently.


hree weeks later she was in a hospital bed, having just had a large brain tumour removed, when partner Sergeant Sam Hutton told her the NZDF Invictus Games Sydney 2018 team had just been announced. The couple wondered if it could be something she could aim for to aid in her recovery. Less than two years on from that terrible morning F/S Adam will join 500 competitors from 20 allied nations competing in a range of adaptive sports at the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 from May 9–16. “Following my surgery everything changed for me, and I lost a lot of my confidence. I was anxious about going to the supermarket, as I was afraid of people talking to me and me not being able to answer simple questions,” she said. “I was worried people might treat me differently, and I was afraid to meet new people.

26 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

“Sport had always been a big part of my life and I enjoy being part of a team but I lost all my confidence to participate and compete. I applied for Invictus as a way to help me regain some of my confidence and maybe return to the person I was, or help discover the new me.” Fellow team member Sergeant Daphne Pringle was hit by an autoimmune disease three years ago which damaged her heart and left her with cardiac sarcoidosis and an implanted cardiac defibrillator. “Initially I was told a lot of things that I couldn’t do or shouldn’t do. I also lost a lot of confidence but now I’ve come to terms with it. I’ll do what I can do to the best of my ability at the Games, whatever that looks like – it’s my new normal.” Flight Sergeant Mike Cotton is no stranger to the Netherlands, having spent four years on the Dutch/German border during his 18 years with the Royal Air Force.

He joined the RNZAF in 2006 and his 30-plus years’ service had led to “a few dings and knocks along the way”. He was just 19 when he served in the first Gulf War and later served on other military operations. He said it was easy to brush aside what he went through at the time but that it all added up over the years and he was eventually diagnosed with PTSD. Five years ago he suffered a significant head trauma while training for a triathlon– an injury he is still recovering from. “I saw some of the Orlando Invictus Games and decided it would be a good mechanism to address my PTSD. It’s an ideal opportunity to meet other people who are dealing with similar issues related to military service.”

Rounding out the team’s serving Air Force contingent is mum-of-six and grandmother of one Flight Sergeant Andrea McNabb, who has terminal adrenal cancer. “I actually didn’t realise how much I needed the support but the purpose of the Games, rehabilitation through sport, became clear throughout the selection camp.




“Rehabilitation for me is coming to terms with my personal situation, almost a stage in my grieving process, and knowing I’m not alone helps.” The team is supported by Fulton Hogan, Dynasty and Panasonic.

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 27

|  I N N O VAT I O N

Air Force Innovation Challenge – it’s not too late to enter

You may have heard the Air Force is having an Innovation Challenge. Entries for this, the inaugural, Chief of Air Force (CAF) sponsored, Air Force Innovation Challenge 2020 close on 18 March, with the ‘Dragon’s Den’ event scheduled to take place at Defence House on 8 April.


s our people’s creativity is one of the most important resources we have, why not take this opportunity to present your innovative idea to CAF for implementation? This Challenge aims to celebrate day-to-day Kiwi ingenuity, reward innovative ideas, and kick-start opportunities for the benefit of all in the Air Force. A lot of what we do every day or Business as usual, through Kiwi ingenuity, could be defined as Innovative. ‘Think Smart’ is a Defence Core Competency after all. Every day we find ingenious solutions to problems in order to keep our aircraft flying so why not formalise your bright, innovative, idea and enter this Challenge NOW. The Challenge. There are five ‘Themes’ to help stimulate the thinking as follows: • Operating; • Technical (including Engineering, Maintenance, Logistics, and Supply); • People & Culture (including Welfare, Wellbeing, Health & Fitness and Sport); • Environmental & Sustainability; and, • Miscellaneous (any idea not captured by one of the above Themes). While the intent is to give life to all the innovative ideas that our people have, an overall Innovation Challenge champion will be awarded to a person or group who best exemplifies the spirit of innovation.

28 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

There is no minimum or maximum number of ‘winners’ though. If your pitch is successful, you will be supported by CAF to develop and implement your proposal – you keep control of your idea. For example, support might include seed-funding, approved duty time, mentoring, cross-Air or NZDF support, or approval to proceed with a trial. Make your pitch – what do you need for this idea to succeed? Innovation entry forms, templates and points of contact are available at Year 2020: Air Force Innovation Challenge, http://ddms-r/DS/D8-0001/ Innovation%20Challenges/Forms/Main. aspx. All submitted ideas will be added to the Air Force Innovation website for future implementation: http://orgs/sites/ armint/I-0003/default.aspx#/Air-ForceInnovation. COME ON BE BOLD AND ENTER BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

I N N O VAT I O N   |

Air Force engineers design awardwinning water quality monitoring device

Air Force duo Corporals (CPL) Prateek Grover and Marty van Woerden are part of a team that has won an engineering prize for designing a prototype to monitor water quality in lakes, rivers and waterways.

“ H2Pure draws on increasingly accessible technology that is available at a reasonable cost.”


he pair, who are both studying for a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Electronics) at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) as part of the RNZAF Degree Training Scheme, partnered with fellow AUT student Sophie Hergot to design and create the prototype. The prototype, called H2Pure, provides a way to measure water quality remotely using 4G technology and a custom-built mobile app using Bluetooth. The trio were awarded the Top Engineering Project in Sustainability prize, judged by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research New Zealand, at the AUT Engineering Awards. The award is presented to the engineering project from finalyear students that makes the greatest contribution to global sustainability through use of modern technology. CPL Grover said all three engineers have a passion for sustainability and wanted to create a solution to a problem using modern technology.

Learning that only 8 per cent of New Zealand lakes and 5 per cent of rivers are regularly monitored for water quality, the group looked to see what they could design to make monitoring easier, he said. “Currently water sampling requires trained technicians to either measure water quality at individual sites or take samples back for lab analysis. H2Pure is a suite of sensors that can sit in a body of water and continuously monitor turbidity, pH level, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, water temperature and nitrates. “This makes measuring water quality much faster and more efficient.”  They have already been contacted by commercial entities that are interested in the prototype and the technology behind it. CPL Woerden said it was important to them that they designed and created a solution that could be manufactured relatively easily and could be used practically by businesses. “The next step is to look at how we could potentially make the product available on a commercial scale.”

- Corporal Marty van Woerden AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 29

|   D I S P L AY

Classic Displays at Air Show B Y



Tauranga was treated to not one, but two displays from the Black Falcons at the Classics of the Sky Air Show in the Bay of Plenty earlier this year.


iewers standing on Mt Maunganui were able to look down on the Air Force’s aerobatic team as they wowed the crowds on the foreshore in perfect flying conditions for their first ever performance over the beach.

“The flying conditions weren’t anything out of the ordinary, although the sun and heat on the ground definitely has an effect on fatigue levels of the crew, so we have to ensure we stay on top of this so we’re ready to display when the time comes.”

It was the first display event of the season for the team too, and for Falcons newcomers Wing Commander Paul Stockley, Flight Lieutenant Shane Huisman, Squadron Leader Mary Robertson, Squadron Leader Jimmy Peters and Squadron Leader Jimmy Davidson.

An A109 helicopter was also present at the show as a static display, with the planned NH90 being diverted to assist with the Australian Bushfire response.

SQNLDR Robertson said the team had practiced the different display locations in the simulator.

30 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

More than 8,500 people attended the show which has been running for 10 years, and Classic Flyers estimate there were at least 4,000 on the foreshore to watch the Friday display. The Falcons have a busy display season ahead, culminating at Warbirds over Wanaka and ending on Anzac Day.

D I S P L AY   |

“ We do a considerable amount of preparation prior to any display which makes new locations and venues much less challenging than they would otherwise be.” - Squadron Leader Mary Robertson





A T-6C Texan pilot waves to the crowd TWO

The Black Falcons Air Display team THREE

One of the T-6C Texans that is part of the Black Falcon Air Display team FOUR

Black Falcons air display team in formation with Warbirds Harvard aircraft FIVE

Crowds at the Classic of the Sky Air Show SIX

A young Black Falcons fan takes a look at the team’s patch 5


AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 31


Tower de Force Challenge B Y


Teams from the Navy, Army, Air Force and NZDF Veterans will join teams from Police, St Johns Ambulance and the Fire Service, as well as the SkyCity Rigging Team to contest the Tower De Force at SkyCity’s Sky Tower later this month.


very day we see the way the New Zealand Defence Force and other emergency first responders apply their skills and dedication to conduct more than 2,500 missions annually in New Zealand, successfully rescuing around 750 people and directly saving more than 200 lives,” says SkyCity Corporate Event Manager, Lizzie Leuchars. “In recognition of these extraordinary individuals and to celebrate their bravery, dedication and courage, SkyCity Auckland in association with the New Zealand Defence Force proudly presents ‘Tower De Force... Rise to the Challenge’ for its fourth year. “This exciting urban relay-challenge is a multi-discipline fitness event that pits team against team from different organisations, in a battle of skill, agility, teamwork, stamina and brute strength.” The challenge supports the Key to Life Foundation and Gumboot Friday Trust to raise funds and awareness around mental health and suicide prevention. The mixed teams will be made up of six participants plus four support crew. NZDF Cadet teams will also compete in the Tower De Cadets 2020. Last year the No. 5 (Rodney District) Squadron, Air Training Corps team took the top prize.

32 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222

“We are very excited to confirm that Scotty ‘Sumo’ Stevenson from TVNZ will again be our MC for the event,” says Ms Leuchars. After a presentation from comedian and mental health advocate Mike King to team members, Tower de Force will begin in front of team supporters and the public, with a brief military ceremony at Sky Tower Plaza for the raising of the New Zealand Flag. The challenge begins with each team dispatched every 15 minutes and starting with a military skills test outside on the Sky Tower Plaza, before allocated team members complete the rest of the course. This includes climbing 1,226 stairs to level 62, performing an emergency first aid challenge, a 91m Sky Tower mast climb to retrieve their team flag at 326m above ground, a descent to level 43, and an abseil with the flag from 160m to ground level, before raising their team flag in the plaza at the base of the Sky Tower. Once all teams have completed the challenge, it is concluded with a bugler playing the ‘Sunset’ as all flags are lowered and a prize-giving is held at SkyCity. Come along to the Tower de Force challenge at 2pm on Saturday 21st March to support your team!

J U S T I C E  |

Notices RNZAF GOLFING SOCIETY 70TH ANNIVERSARY TOURNAMENT Hosted by RNZAF Base Ohakea. Open to current and ex-serving RNZAF personnel. Rangitikei Golf Course 01–05 Nov 2020 18 and 36 hole divisions Points of contact: AK W/O Raewyn Ansell OH F/S Polly Perkins WN F/S Isaac Hastings WB CPL Steve Anderson

AIR CADET REUNION AIRMAN CADET CLASS OF 1970 50th Reunion for 27th Intake RNZAF Airman Cadets. We are planning a get together 25 April 2020 at the Marlborough Club Blenheim. Dinner on 24th. March as a Flight 25th in the club’s morning parade. Dinner and refreshments. Visit to RNZAF Base Woodbourne 26th. Invitation is extended to any Staff from 1970 also. Contact Brian Graham (Guntha) at: briangraham222@gmail.com 

Guilty Verdict in Drugs Case Recently a Court Martial was held at Base Ohakea for charges relating to illegal substance procurement and use.


vionics technician Leading Aircraftman Tom Lowther faced multiple charges of offering to supply Class B drugs and using Oxycodone and Class B (MDMA) controlled drugs. Lowther was found guilty and sentenced to 85 days detention at Services Correction Establishment in Burnham, following this, he will be dismissed from the New Zealand Defence Force. Chief Judge Kevin Riordan said during sentencing the behaviour displayed by Lowther needed to be strongly denounced. “Helicopters are on daily operations and a single mistake could have catastrophic consequences. All persons in the armed forces must be able to rely on their comrades not being under the influence of drugs.” The Defence Force’s Substance Harm Minimisation policy says that Substance misuse is not compatible with an effective and efficient Defence Force. “The Defence Force has an interest in minimising harm from the misuse of substances by personnel as their misuse can impair individuals, create safety and security risks, undermine operational capability and mission effectiveness, and damage trust, morale and organisational reputation.”


34 |  AIR FORCE NEWS #222



During the South Island flooding No. 3 Squadron had the opportunity to assist the Minister of Civil Defence and others to visit and survey the damaged town of Mataura. I took this photo as the NH90 was returning to pick up officials who had been talking with locals. This little dude and his brother were hanging around keeping me company, as the NH90 came in I could see the potential of what was about to happen because we were so close to the Loading Zone. As the downwash hit – it was all about hanging on and enjoying the moment.

AIR FORCE NEWS #222  | 35

A I R F O R C E 20 Innovation Challenge 2 0 A

D R A G O N S ’




Ideas need to be new to RNZAF and will be judged on merit and practicality SUBMISSIONS CLOSE

18 March 2020


Access the Air Force Innovation pages at http://orgs/sites/armint/I-0003/default.aspx#/Air-Force-Innovation or email: Innovation@nzdf.mil.nz Subject: Air Force Innovation Challenge 2020


08 April 2020

Profile for New Zealand Defence Force

Royal New Zealand Air Force | Air Force News - Issue 222, March 2020  

Air Force News is a monthly magazine that strives to inform its readers about the latest news from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It cover...

Royal New Zealand Air Force | Air Force News - Issue 222, March 2020  

Air Force News is a monthly magazine that strives to inform its readers about the latest news from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It cover...