08 April, 2022
Pilot Officer (PLTOFF) Walker’s iwi is Ngāti Maniapoto and he said Māori culture’s core understanding that people are vitally important underpins nearly everything he does.
“It hasn’t really failed me to date. It’s always been drummed into me that family are important, even now they still support me big time. They help pull me through anything and everything.
“On missions, you can have all the equipment in the world, but if the people aren’t up to scratch, expensive equipment means nothing. I’ve seen how well a team can operate when you focus on the people – you can move mountains if the people are doing well.”
PLTOFF Walker was adamant about a career in the industry and eight years ago he found an opening as an aviation fuel specialist in the Air Force after graduating university with a degree in aviation management.
“I was trying to get into the airlines at the time, but I was having no luck. When I saw a role with the Air Force as a refueller, I thought I would give it a go. They took me on straightaway. I’ve always had a passion for planes. I saw my first plane when I was young and I fell in love.”
PLTOFF Walker has now taken that passion to a different level and last year completed officer training in preparation for a trade change to be a pilot.
“I felt I’d reached my peak as a refueller – there was nothing else I could master as a Leading Aircraftman and I wanted to get a promotion. For me there was no other trade more exciting than to be a pilot,” he said.
“I’m open to being posted to any of the squadrons once I’m qualified, but given the option, I’d like to go to No. 40 Squadron with the Hercules.”
Flying Hercules aircraft appealed to the former refueller who also learned to drive trucks and transporting materials in the role.
“I like that aspect of transporting goods – I see the Hercules as a truck of the skies.”
Growing up on a dairy farm in Otewa and Waitomo, near Otorohanga, instilled a strong work ethic in the 36-year-old.
“One thing I learnt on the farm was the value of hard work. It wasn’t easy, but it was very rewarding. It was also great to be part of a small, close-knit community,” he said.
The Air Force provided a unique work experience where no two days are the same, PLTOFF Walker said.
“It’s also very good for job security. But, like any organisation, it ain’t perfect and if you’re not into military discipline, it can be quite daunting.
“However, if you make the most of what the Air Force has to offer, combined with a little perseverance, it can be an amazing place to work.”