I was in awe at the way the pilot of the Fletcher aircraft would take off on our hill airstrip with a full load of fertilizer and then at a low level, perhaps about 200 feet above the ground and follow the hills and valleys until the job was done.
A few years later when I was 8 years old we went to the Rotorua aerodrome for the airshow. Early in the afternoon an RNZAF Vampire jet came in at a very low level pass (about 50 feet above the ground) and I said to myself, that’s what I want to do when I grow up.
I read many books abut WW2 and the expoits/autobiographies of WW2 fighter pilots and Bomber pilots including names such as Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader (no legs) and Wing Commander Stanford Tuck. Also the leader of the Dambuster raid Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC. He also was instrumental as a Pathfinder Pilot on Lancaster Bombers.
My mother gave me an Oxford English Dictionary for my 12th Christmas and she wrote in it “Reach For the Sky”.
I wanted to join the Air Force as soon as I left School, but was persuaded to wait and go to University to get a degree, I chose Agriculture (farming upbringing and work)
However when I completed my degrees and was 23 years of age I decided that this was the time as the limit for pilots was 24 years.
I joined in January 1976 in 176 aircrew course.
Basic training included, drills , marching , physical fitness (I was also a smoker so physical fitness was very hard). We completed 6 months of classroom training in all subjects aligned to flying, maths, physics, meteorology, airframes , aerodynamics and Officer Training. We also had the chance to complete a few hours flying to keep us interested!
Real flying began on the North American AT6 Harvard, with a powerful 560 HP radial engine, Max speed of 205 Nautical miles per hour (Knots), ceiling of up to 10,000 feet.
I went solo in 12 hours and was soon completing aerobatic routines daily, such as loops, slow rolls, wing overs, barrel rolls, roll of the top of a loop, stalling, spinning. It was such a joy. In fact my instructor, F/L Nigel (Wheatie)O’Neill, commented on my commentary when doing the first loop, which was “over we go Trev”, a common comment by Fred Dagg (John Clarke, Comedian) in his TV shows.
We completed 150 hours on Harvards (Piston Engine) before graduating and going to the Jet Phase on the BAC 167 Strikemaster, a British Jet Trainer.
Now we could fly at speeds of 420 Knots with a maximum ceiling reached of 42,000 feet. Of course we were on full oxygen and could descend very quickly.
I graduated and achieved my dream, with many stories to tell, then began flying the Hawker Siddely Andover and medium range twin engine transport aircraft, in which we completed many flights, as passenger transport and freight runs, all over the Pacific and to Australia.
I gave it all up to ensure that my recent marriage to my partner Karin was secure. Karin's father was a Pathfinder on Mosquitoes during WW2 and was a highly decorated pilot (DFC, DFM).
That’s enough for now …..