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Flying Flamingos: Base Ohakea trials free e-scooter scheme

RNZAF Base Ohakea is looking a little pinker, and greener, as an e-scooter trial takes off around the base.

20 March, 2023

Ten distinctive pink Flamingo scooters are free for staff to use as part of the six-month trial, which appears to be proving popular from day one.

Corporal Huma Tysoe came up with the idea after being prompted by the base commander, Group Captain Robert Shearer. He and Warrant Officer Aaron Jeffries supported her through the process.

“After researching and planning over a weekend, first thing Monday I went to work and organised to present my presentation to the Base Leadership Team.

“They all loved the concept. I took on their feedback, created a minute and sent it through to the base commander. My workmates were so helpful, letting me bounce ideas of them as well as helping me construct a pretty awesome minute.”

Flamingo was also keen on the trial and was able to meet Corporal Tysoe’s criteria, such as the scooters being geo-fenced to limit them to the base and away from areas such as flight lines.

The trial started mid-January.

“From what I have seen and heard so far, they are definitely being used. An hour after the fleet arriving last month, I saw people zooming around on them which was awesome,” Corporal Tysoe said. 

“There have been lots of people requesting more as there are only 10 on base right now.” 

There were a number of benefits to using a zero-emission scooter, rather than a squadron vehicle which has emissions of 121g of CO2 per 1 kilometre, she said.

They were cheaper to buy and run, easier to park and store, and reduce the burden on squadron vehicles as well as lowering traffic volumes around the base. 

“There are also the health benefits as people get some vitamin D and fresh air while moving around base.”

Corporal Tysoe said it had been a privilege to be able to implement such a big change on base from what only started out as a “random idea”. 

“It can be really scary trying to implement a change.” 

Group Captain Shearer said the trial was a great initiative by Corporal Tysoe, who showed courage and commitment to pitch this to the Base Leadership Team.

“E-mobility is on the rise everywhere; it is efficient, encourages engagement, is clean, a bit of fun and makes sense."

As part of the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) aims to reduce gross emissions by 21 percent by 2024/25 and 42 percent by 2029/30.

If successful, the Flamingo trial will complement the NZDF Electric Vehicle Project and others, which will help reduce the NZDF’s carbon emissions.

E-scooter schemes have been up and running at military bases around the world. Not all of them have free access like Base Ohakea and some still require the app and pay per ride.

Ohakea riders must follow safety rules and ironically there is an old-fashioned paper-based register for using the scooters.

“It is only the trial period but if we can think of a better way then we will definitely try that. Nothing wrong with paper though, it is recyclable,” Corporal Tysoe said.