Seven new pilots, trained using the T-6C Texan II planes, have graduated at Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Ohakea.
Six RNZAF pilots and one Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) pilot received their brevets from Minster of Defence Ron Mark in front of proud family, friends and fellow Air Force personnel.
In his speech the Minister applauded the graduates for their achievement in being selected initially from more than 1000 applicants and then demonstrating continued excellence to make it through their pilot training to graduation.
“The next few years will be an exciting time for the Defence Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force and you are superbly placed to be part of the team that delivers military air operations for our country,” Mr Mark said.
“The Government and the people of New Zealand have great trust that you will deliver.
“I have seen the work of those who have gone before you — the pilots flying operationally across the whole of our RNZAF fleet — and I have been impressed by their professionalism and skill, and I know that you will go on to achieve the same.”
Pilot Officer George Bellamy was awarded the Baigent Memorial Shield, which is awarded to a graduate with exceptional results during training. The shield has been awarded just eight times since it was donated to the RNZAF in memory of the late Wing Commander C.H. Baigent in 1955.
Pilot Officer Bellamy was also presented with the De Lange Trophy as the pilot gaining the highest final flying mark and Pilot Officer Cameron Pilkinton was presented with the Wigram Trophy as the graduate with the highest final academic mark.
The RNZAF Sword of Honour was awarded to Flying Officer Dylan Arlidge, as the graduate who achieved a distinguished pass in all phases of the course.
The new pilots will be posted either to the RNZAF rotary wing fleet to learn to fly helicopters on the Augusta A109 Light Utility Helicopter at №3 Squadron, or №42 Squadron to learn to fly multi-engine aircraft on the Beechcraft B200 King Air.
The helicopter pilots will then go on to fly the NH90 or Seasprite helicopters at №3 or №6 squadrons respectively, while the multi-engine pilots will go on fly either the Hercules or Boeing 757 at №40 Squadron, or the Orion at №5 Squadron.
Flying Officer Dylan Arlidge was raised in Opunake, South Taranaki, where he attended Opunake High School and was head boy in his final year. He competed at a national level for many years in swimming and later in adventure racing, including the Hillary Challenge. He also became a volunteer firefighter in his last year of high school. He studied Software Engineering at Victoria University in Wellington while applying for the RNZAF and left university to attend the Initial Officer Training Course (IOTC). Upon completion of IOTC at the end of 2015 he was posted to №42 Squadron as Operations Officer for 2016, and began pilot training with №14 Squadron in January 2017.
Pilot Officer George Bellamy was raised in Arrowtown and attended Wakatipu High School in Queenstown. In his senior year he qualified as a ski instructor, and during a gap year instructed first-time skiers of all ages at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. He was a prefect during Year 13, and captained the school’s First XI football team. He loves the outdoors, summiting Mt Aspiring before joining the RNZAF, and is particularly keen on the search-and-rescue aspect of military aviation.
Pilot Officer Connor Broughton was born and raised in Rotorua. He attended John Paul College and at 17 he was accepted into the RNZAF as a pilot under training. Before joining the RNZAF his main passion was rowing, where he competed in a number of New Zealand championship events for four years. He completed Initial Officer Training Course in 2016 and was posted to №14 Squadron, where he completed 17–1 Pilots Course.
Pilot Officer Seth Fagan was in born in the United Kingdom and moved to Titirangi, Auckland at the age of seven. He attended Avondale College and studied for a Bachelor of Science at the University of Auckland. He joined the Titirangi Volunteer Fire Brigade in 2014 and graduated as a firefighter that year. After some overseas travelling, he was selected to join the RNZAF as a pilot under training. He graduated Initial Officer Training Course in 2016 and worked at the SERE Training Centre at RNZAF Base Auckland in 2016, where he assisted with survival training before starting 17–1 Pilots Course.
Pilot Officer Daniel Ingle was born in Feilding but spent most of his life in Christchurch. He attended St Bede’s College before going on to complete a Diploma of Contemporary Music at Vision College. In January 2016 he joined the RNZAF in Woodbourne on the Initial Officer Training Course. Following graduation from officer training he spent five months working at №42 Squadron as a deputy operations officer before commencing 17–1 Pilots Course in January last year.
Pilot Officer Cameron Pilkinton was born and raised in Whakatane, where he attended Trident High School and was a prefect in his last year. During secondary school he spent his free time tramping and competed in gymnastics at a national level. He joined the RNZAF from high school, graduating Initial Officer Training Course in 2016.
Lieutenant Stephen Knowles grew up in Wellington and attended St Patrick’s College, Silverstream, graduating in 2011. He joined the RNZN in January 2012 as a Warfare Officer, completing his Basic Officer of the Watch course and going on an exchange with the Royal Australian Navy. He completed his Advanced and Warfare Officer of the Watch qualifications aboard HMNZS Te Kaha, and in 2015 he conducted the 100-year Anzac commemorations in Turkey aboard HMNZS Te Kaha, culminating in counter-narcotics and anti-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean. In 2016 he succeeded in his pilot application and started pilot training in January 2017.