Have you always wanted to be a pilot? How about joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force? You’ll get to operate some of the cutting-edge military aircraft in our fleet, and also play a vital role in command and management positions throughout our organisation. It’s fast, tough and one of the most exciting careers in the world.
Once you’ve completed pilot training, you’ll concentrate on organising and conducting military operations and tasks in New Zealand and throughout the world. Currently this involves specialist training onto the A109 Light Utility Helicopter, P3-2K Orion, newly upgraded C-130H Hercules or Boeing 757. Training on our most recent acquisition, the NH90 helicopter, will begin in early 2013.
Initially, in your primary role as aircrew, you’ll fly as an operational Co-pilot, but with further training and experience you’ll soon make the leap to becoming a fully qualified Aircraft Captain,and then Flying Instructor. As a Commissioned Officer, you’ll also be required to perform military command and leadership duties, and with additional training could go on to fill senior command or executive management roles.
Whilst on Pilots Course your daily activities are fairly proscribed, enabling you to concentrate all your energies on the comprehensive and sometimes testing training system. But once you are a qualified Pilot, one of the big attractions of the RNZAF as a career is that the elements of your day to day job are wildly variable. Whilst the standard working day for Defence personnel is 0745 to 1630 sometimes you may well find yourself in at 0300 planning for an 0500 take off on a Joint Forces task supporting an Army training exercise in Waiouru. Alternatively you could be starting work at 1400 because you are planned to fly the Prime Minister of New Zealand and members of his Cabinet into three regional airports later that night. The point is that an aircrew working day is varied, never gets boring, and is almost always infinitely flexible!
In addition to your primary role you will also carry out other duties, such as commanding a base sports team, or being a member of the Officers Mess Committee organising social functions, or filling an aviation safety or welfare role on Base. You will be helped to develop some solid personal and time management skills in order to achieve your weekly tasks, and whilst you’ll rarely be sitting around twiddling your thumbs, you’ll find there’s almost always time for a kick-
about in the gym, or a quiet swim in the base pool.
When on deployment, whether on an exercise or an operation overseas, your job is more easily definable. You and your flying crew will be tasked with daily flying in support of the deployment. This could involve taking medical and or food supplies to where it’s needed, or transporting an Army unit and their equipment to a Landing Zone, or even providing the long range transport for an entire NZDF deployment to Afghanistan. On arrival you might find yourself assisting the establishment of a tented camp, or in charge of a security detail, and you will also be heavily involved in the set-up of flying operations.
There are often other nations involved in our overseas deployments, and “keeping up foreign relations” is a favourite pastime of RNZAF Pilots! In reality this usually means you absorb a huge amount of information about other forces – their operations and their culture – all of which stands you in very good stead the next time you deploy. It is testament to the positive attitude and professionalism of RNZAF personnel that Kiwis are always well received by our foreign counterparts – especially as we often take out the top prizes in overseas flying exercises!
Being an Air Force pilot is a dynamic, challenging, but highly rewarding role with excellent career opportunities, including promotion to Flight Lieutenant and beyond. Opportunities also exist as a Flying Instructor, NZ based ground roles such as an Aviation Safety Officer or planner at Joint Forces Headquarters, and overseas as a United Nations Observer,or Air Liaison Officer. All these positions offer the potential for overseas travel, courses and postings.
Careers in the Air Force are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.
While undertaking initial Recruit Course you will be paid as a Recruit (see attached pay table). On completion of your Recruit Course you will be paid as a Pilot Officer and your pay will continue to increase as your career progresses
A minimum of 18 NCEA Level 2 credits in English, Maths and a Science subject, preferably Physics.
First you’ll complete a 21 week Initial Officer Training Course at RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim). This will commence in either January or July. Here you’ll find out if you’ve got what it takes to be in the Air Force, and will cover various subjects including:
After 21 weeks initial officer training at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, you’ll undergo Initial Pilot Training at RNZAF Base Ohakea. This begins with a full-time residential course over 41 weeks, during which you’ll study subjects ranging from aeronautical physics to meteorology, as well as flying around 130 hours in a single-engine CT4E Air Trainer. On Initial Pilot Training you will learn low-level navigation, close formation, aerobatics and instrument flying. This is followed by a 29-week Advanced Pilot Training Course, which enhances your skills to the standard required to achieve your pilot’s brevet (wings).
During this phase, you’ll fly approximately 110 hours, as a mission capable, single-pilot operator of the Beech Kingair multi-engine aircraft.
After graduating, you’ll take either the Helicopter Basic Course or the Kingair Operational Conversion Course.
You’ll then begin conversion and on-the-job training at either RNZAF Base Ohakea (helicopters) or RNZAF Base Auckland (fixed wing) to specialise in one of the RNZAF’s force element aircraft. In addition to your pilot training, you will have the opportunity to undertake various management and command courses, as well as the Flying Instructor Course.
In addition to your pilot training, you will have the opportunity to undertake various management and command courses, as well as the Flying Instructor Course. You can also take advantage of the NZDFs support of tertiary education and gain extra civilian qualifications, either in academic or vocational subjects.