05 July, 2021
With both parents ex-Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and a brother who’s a pilot instructor, the former St Andrew’s College student jumped into the Air Force as soon as he finished school.
After going through Joint Officer Induction Course and Initial Officer Training Course he then underwent navigation training at RNZAF Base Ohakea.
“Initially we went through basic aircraft and navigation duties and studied air law, and then did some basic navigation flights around the country,” Flying Officer Bland said.
“In the maritime phase we learned about patrolling over the water, rigging boats and being in contact with them for information, and also search and rescue.”
Tactical navigation training focussed on low level navigation around New Zealand and trying to hit a target on time.
Now he’s almost finished his conversion training to be a navigator aboard a C-130 Hercules.
The Hercules is his favourite aircraft and he’s very happy to be flying it with No. 40 Squadron.
His father was also a navigator in the same Hercules aircraft and his mother was a flight steward, also for No. 40 Squadron.
“I’ve always wanted to fly on the Hercules, it’s been my dream to fly on it and I’d like to be on it as long as possible. Getting to Antarctica on it is something I’m really looking forward to and hopefully I’ll be able to do that this summer.”
His first exercise was last week, based at RNZAF Base Woodbourne near Blenheim, for Exercise Nocturnal Reach – where crews honed their night-flying skills around the top of the South Island.
He was having a ball, and the 21-year-old had no hesitation in recommending the RNZAF as a career.
“Go for it. The three years I’ve been in the Air Force have outshone anything I’ve done at school, and compared to my mates who went to University I’m doing so much. I’ve made great friends and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”