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Aviator chalks up air miles in RNZAF career

Leading Aircraftman Nikara Ross has visited 10 countries in her short Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) career and marshalling a massive Australian C-17 military transport plane in the heat of Honiara gives her another reason to love her job.

30 November, 2023

Working in Air Movements as a logistics specialist, her primary role is to assist in facilitating the movement of people and goods. She is currently deployed to Honiara in the Solomon Islands with the New Zealand Defence Force contingent supporting the Pacific Games.

Leading Aircraftman Ross (known as “Neeks”) joined the RNZAF in 2019. Her childhood dream was always to join the military, and the dream received a boost when she attended a Youth Development Unit (YDU) programme while she was at Wairoa College.

After joining the Air Force, thanks to her YDU experience, Leading Aircraftman Ross found basic training to be “unsurprising and fairly straightforward”.

While it was tough at times, she made lifelong friends. They have all gone on to different roles within the RNZAF, but she catches up with them regularly and often bumps into them in the course of her work.

Leading Aircraftman Ross is proud of her Māori heritage, her iwi, Ngāti Pāhauwera, and her Hawke’s Bay hometown Kotemaori, but travel was always a part of the attraction of joining the RNZAF.

She relishes the opportunities that the service provides. So far she has been to 10 countries, and once visited five countries in a week. 

LAC Ross 1 LAC Ross 4 LAC Ross 5 Credit ADF

Leading Aircraftman Nikara Ross has visited 10 countries in her short RNZAF career and is now in the Solomon Islands for the Pacific Games

She said that as a result of her RNZAF service her confidence had grown in leaps and bounds, and she had exceeded her own expectations of what she was capable of.

She hoped eventually to train for an aircrew role, as either a steward or loadmaster. She also wants to give back to her community and assist other Māori, perhaps by posting to YDU and then Defence Recruiting.

An integral part of her team, Leading Aircraftman Ross said she was thriving in the challenging environment of her day-to-day routine. She believed everyone had something to teach and that her team achieved their best by “thriving on each other’s strengths and working on each other’s weaknesses”.

Working with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at the Pacific Games has been a career highlight, especially when she marshalled an arriving RAAF C-17 with RNZAF NH90 helicopters on board.

Leading Aircraftman Ross was excited about her life and her career. “Everyone has a different career and I bloody love mine,” she said.