History and Excellence Recognised at Pilot Graduation
Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies presents the prestigious Baigent Memorial Shield to Pilot Officer Andrew Sledger at RNZAF Base Ohakea.
24 November 2017
The first Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) pilots trained using the T-6C Texan II integrated pilot training system, have graduated under a newly consecrated Squadron Standard.
The eight pilots received their brevets at RNZAF Base Ohakea after witnessing the presentation of a new Standard for the re-established No. 14 Squadron.
No. 14 Squadron was first formed in 1942 as the RNZAF’s first fighter unit, deploying into several theatres until taking up the role of advanced pilot training in 1972. It was disbanded in December 2001 and re-established with the introduction of the T-6C Texan II trainers in 2015.
The Standard was blessed by three chaplains before being presented to No. 14 Squadron by Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies.
“The re-dedication of these honours represents another significant milestone in 14 SQN’s long and proud history.
“The importance of such tangible indicators of our past cannot be overstated as a source of pride and inspiration for the men and women of today’s Air Force as they reflect on the sacrifices and effort of all those who have gone before,” said Air Vice-Marshal Davies.
Pilot Officer Andrew Sledger made a clean sweep of the awards presented to the students, including the prestigious Baigent Memorial Shield that is awarded to a graduate with exceptional results.
The Baigent Memorial Shield has been awarded just seven times since it was donated to the RNZAF in memory of the late Wing Commander C.H. Baigent, DSO, DFC, AFC in 1955. It was last awarded in 2014.
“This a tremendous achievement by PLTOFF Sledger, but also the acknowledgement that we are an Air Force that recognises the importance in setting aspirational goals that require us all to strive for absolute excellence,” said Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies
He said Squadrons operate in a myriad of places under all sorts of conditions.
“That can only be done safely by all crews who have skill, capacity, initiative, excellent decision making, and a sound understanding of airmanship.”
PLTOFF Sledger, a 20 year-old former Air Force Cadet from Hamilton, says he was extremely honoured to have received the award and that he is excited about his future within the Air Force.
“I’m really excited that we’ll now be moving on to operational squadrons and, after a conversion course, we will be able to do tasks that directly contribute to the Defence Force’s outputs and help the people of New Zealand and our neighbours.”
The graduation included a fly past of T-6C Texan II aircraft and NH90 helicopters which was followed by a display from the RNZAF Black Falcons aerobatic team.
The other successful graduates from pilot course 16/1 are;
PLTOFF Corey Fothergill – Wanaka
PLTOFF Mickey Crisford – North Shore, Auckland
PLTOFF James Erskine – Kaiapoi
PLTOFF Magnus Holding – Auckland
PLTOFF Tom Peterson – Nelson
PLTOFF Paul Robinson – Glen Murray
FGOFF Robert Kenyon – Tauranga
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