When he was still at school, Jack Everett decided he wanted his work office to be in a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helicopter.

He has now realised that office goal as he and three others graduated as Helicopter Loadmasters at RNZAF Base Ohakea on Friday.

Corporal Everett was encouraged to apply for the role by a New Zealand Defence Force recruiter.

“After looking into it I thought that it looked like a pretty cool job,” he said.

He filled in time between leaving Nelson College and the Air Force by working in hospitality and in an aluminium joinery factory while waiting for his place on the loadmaster course.

Now, at 21, he has progressed from struggling to direct a helicopter around a practice square to the exacting job of directing the pilot with pinpoint accuracy.

A cool head, quick reactions and critical thinking skills are essential for a helicopter loadmaster, who is responsible for any passengers, underslung loads and rescue hoists.

Corporal Everett needs to be able to assess fast-changing situations, determine the right course of action and then communicate that effectively to achieve a successful mission. 

“I’m now able to winch someone to a specific point with night vision goggles, in amongst a whole lot of trees,” Corporal Everett said.

It’s a handy skill to have when you are part of a search and rescue team. 

Corporal Everett will now join No. 3 Squadron, which is called on to carry out aid delivery and search and rescue missions in New Zealand and around the South Pacific. It also supports the New Zealand Army by delivering troops and equipment into combat and supports NZ Police and other government agencies.

Recently, the squadron’s NH90 helicopters and crew supported the Australian Defence Force-led response to the bushfires and also the response to the Whakaari/White Island eruption.

Corporal Everett, who is also a firefighter with the Feilding Volunteer Fire Brigade, said the RNZAF had been a great career choice for him.

“I would tell anyone that’s thinking of joining to just do it. You won’t regret it, the opportunities are amazing.”

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