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Air Force Congratulates new Helicopter Crew

Corporal Edward Garvey and Corporal Aeron Mellish - graduating helicopter crewmen with an A109 in the background
Corporal Edward Garvey and Corporal Aeron Mellish - graduating helicopter crewmen with an A109 in the background

14 August 2015

Today three Royal New Zealand Air Force pilots and two helicopter crewmen graduated their Helicopter Basic Course after six months of challenging training at RNZAF Base Ohakea.

The course involved a combination of ground school training where the students learnt the theory about the aircraft, engine and avionics; as well as intense flying training covering the skills needed to fly in confined areas, winching and carrying underslung loads.

Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Graham Burnnand, Training Section Commander for the A109 helicopter, said completing the Helicopter Basic Course is a significant milestone in the students’ Air Force career.

“The A109 is one of the most capable helicopter training platforms in New Zealand. It is a sophisticated aircraft and the students are fortunate to be able to train in such a modern and capable helicopter.

“Being able to use the simulator for the Instrument Flight Rules training is a big advantage as it means we can conduct training without being constrained by weather and create realistic emergency scenarios that would not be unachievable in the real aircraft.

“The students are trained in using night vision goggles, which is one element civilian flying trainees wouldn’t experience at this level. The training on the A109 puts the students in a great position to transition to the NH90 helicopter,” said SQNLDR Burnnand

The training was undertaken in the Air Force’s A109 helicopters and the A109 helicopter simulator. While most of the flying training occurred close to Base Ohakea, the students also operated in the Ruahine Ranges to gain competency in mountain flying. The Waiouru military training area was used for navigation and formation flying training.

The two crewmen will now commence conversion training on the NH90 helicopter in order to become fully operational. Two of the pilots will also commence conversion training to fly the NH90 while the other pilot will remain on the A109. Prior to undertaking the Helicopter Basic Course the three pilots completed both their Wings and Advanced Wings flying training.

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