Former Rosehill College student Aircraftman (AC) Suhailjeet Singh, hadn’t considered a future in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) when his family immigrated to New Zealand from New Delhi, India in 2003. However, encouragement from family led to him choosing a career involving aircraft.

AC Singh, aged 20, is studying the Aircraft Technician trade, which includes working on airframes, engines, structure, modifications and troubleshooting of aircraft.

“I am a hands-on person with interest in cars and motorbikes. My cousin, who is a mechanical engineer, suggested that I should find out about careers in the RNZAF and apply. He nagged me until I did find out the necessary information.”

“The recruit training is very challenging as it takes you from a civilian to a serviceperson in 14 weeks. You are challenged physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally but at the end of it you know you have done the hard work and you can wear the uniform with pride as you have earned it.

“I have learnt a lot during my training and I’ve formed lifelong friendships with many fellow air men and women. Being the only Indian, and the only Sikh male in this group, I did not feel alone or apart.

“We are a mixture of New Zealanders from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds and come from many different families but we now also belong to another bigger family, the RNZAF.”

The RNZAF’s dress code accommodates people with different religious backgrounds, such as issuing material for turbans as part of the uniform. He can keep on him the “five Ks” required as part of his faith: uncut hair (Kesh), a wooden comb (Kangha), an iron bracelet (Kara), a cotton undergarment (Kachera) and an iron dagger (Kirpan). He is also an ardent student of the Sikh martial art Gatka.

“This may not be the country of our birth or heritage but it is our home and I, and hopefully others, would feel privileged to have the right to defend this land and waters, to keep all New Zealand families and communities safe,” AC Singh said.

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