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Flying dream achieved with late change in career flight path

Richard Haynes is living proof you can be established on a civilian career path and make a late change of course to take flight with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

28 July, 2021

Born in Birmingham, England, Richard had thought about joining the Royal Air Force as a schoolboy. But that dream was put on the backburner as he earned a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Sport and Exercise Science, and was then bitten by the travel bug.

He travelled extensively and eventually ended up in Auckland, where he started a career in retail and soon gained residency. He was working as a disputes manager for Vodafone when he decided to revisit his aviation dream, which was encouraged by his wife.

“After reaching a crossroads in my career I wanted to achieve what I once had a vision for in the UK and become a pilot,” the 31-year-old, who now calls Orewa home, said.

“I wanted to be a role model for my family and to prove to myself that I had what was required to be successful in one of the most prestigious roles in such a distinguished service.

“I am the first in my family to show any desire to join the Air Force and I also want to start a family tradition with the RNZAF.”

But it wasn’t an easy path.

“It took me almost four years to get in to the RNZAF. After being successful during my first Officer Aircrew Selection Board for a pilot role I wasn’t chosen from the candidate pool.”

It wasn’t until a second selection board application that he got an offer of service to be a pilot.

“During that time, I had accelerated through a career with Vodafone. I was 30 years old, I had just purchased a home, housed a puppy, and was recently engaged.”

Despite an already full life, he embraced his new opportunity with the Air Force.

Now Pilot Officer Haynes has graduated from the 17-week RNZAF Officer Commissioning Course at Base Woodbourne and will soon embark on his training to become a pilot.

He and his wife are now expecting a baby and he expects the next stage of his career to be just as challenging as he supports his young family

“I can’t wait to get to get in the cockpit of a Texan for the first time and in the long run I’d love to become a flying instructor at No. 14 Squadron,” he said.

“Deciding to join the Air Force at that time, and at my age, was the single hardest decision I have made but if I were to do things again I wouldn’t change a thing.”