As a stevedore at the Ports of Auckland, Michael Fraser dreamed of flying.
Now those dreams have come true after graduating as a Helicopter Loadmaster at RNZAF Base Ohakea on Friday following 11-months training, including flying aboard A109 light utility helicopters.
He will now move on to the Seasprite Aircraft Conversion Course and then the Operational Conversion Course.
As part of No. 6 Squadron, Ordinary Helicopter Loadmaster Fraser’s role will include winching, photography, load lifting, in-flight refuelling and operating the Mag 58 machine gun.
The 25-year-old former Westlake Boys’ High School student can’t wait.
“I have always wanted to fly and the Navy gave me the opportunity. The loadmaster role is an exciting one where I will get to help a lot of people and see some amazing sights,” he said.
“Being part of the New Zealand Defence Force means that I have a career that I am proud of and that really makes a difference in helping and protecting our country.
“Whether it be in border protection, search and rescue or helping after a major catastrophe like the Whakaari/White Island eruption or the Christchurch earthquakes.”
Two key moments of his training have stood out so far, he said.
“During mountain flying in the South Island we got to see some pretty cool scenery and I enjoyed the night flying phase of training. Looking through night-vision goggles reduces your vision quite a bit so you’re working very hard.”
But it’s not all work and no play. As a keen hockey player Ordinary Helicopter Loadmaster Fraser has already represented the Navy in New Zealand Defence Force tournaments and he is extremely happy he can balance his love of sport with his dream career.
“I can make a difference and I love that every day is different, from training to real life situations.
“I have already made some life-long friends and I am only at the start of my career. If people are thinking about a career that gives them options for travel, sports, further education or just want to make a difference in the world then they should look at all the different opportunities that are in Defence.”