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New Marlborough Air Force recruit joins the ‘family business’

When Aircraftman Georgia Woodhouse graduates the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) recruit course next week, she will officially join what her mum calls the “family business”.

04 April, 2024

With her brother a recruit last year and her mum and dad ex Air Force, serving from the late 80s, it’s a path her family knows well.

Woodhouse previously worked a 9-5 job at a Blenheim winery, living with her cat and making ceramics which she sold at the local market, but knew it wasn’t her calling.

Joining as an Air Warfare Specialist, the Blenheim local has spent the last three months at RNZAF Base Woodbourne with 60 other new recruits learning all the skills necessary to become an aviator.

Aircraftman Woodhouse said it was a “complete 180 in lifestyle”.

One minute she was at a local winery, and the next she was learning how to fire a rifle and practising military drills and parading.

“Right from day dot it was very strict. A huge change from civilian life,” she said. 

Even with a strong family connection, she wanted to go in fresh and keep some things in the course a surprise, like what happens during the week at the Dip Flat training ground at the top of the Wairau Valley.

This is where recruits put into practice all the skills they have learnt in a dynamic military environment. From night time patrols, quick fire responses and vehicle searches, the recruits are put through a range of real-world scenarios to test their knowledge.

“Dip Flat is definitely a highlight of the course. I’m quite an outdoorsy person so it’s nice to get out of the classroom environment and into the action,” Aircraftman Woodhouse said.

“I have also learnt a lot about backing myself. It would have been really easy to sit back during the training but they make sure you are confident in participating.”

RNZAF recruits conducting patrols as part of their training

RNZAF recruits conducting patrols as part of their training

AC Woodhouse 1

It wasn’t a straight path to the RNZAF for Aircraftman Woodhouse as she was on “no set route” once finishing high school.

In 2017, she started at Victoria University and did a year of a Bachelor of Arts degree, studying French and Classics, but wasn’t sure what she would do once she graduated.

After that, she spent two summers in the United States teaching students to waterski.

Returning to Blenheim, she worked in a local winery but while loving the team, knew it still wasn’t her calling. 

“It was really my brother that piqued my interest in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). I applied without telling my parents, and eventually told them when I got accepted.

“My parents didn’t push me into the Air Force - they believe the Air Force should only have people who really want to be there.” 

After graduating next week, she will complete specific trade training at Woodbourne before eventually moving to Base Ohakea later this year.

As an Air Warfare Specialist, she will fly on the P-8A Poseidon, processing and analysing information to support a range of surveillance flights.

“I’m really interested in helping out in the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response work the NZDF does,” she said. 

But for now her attention is turned to the graduation parade next Friday. 

“I’m looking forward to having my family there, there will be a few tears for sure.”