The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has 66 new members after a combined graduation of Recruits and Officer Cadets at Base Woodbourne.

The Recruit course was a fairly even split of men and women, and nearly half the Officer Cadets will go on to train as pilots.

Base Commander Woodbourne, Wing Commander Pete De Rungs said this year’s training had been unique for the base.

“I am impressed by the standard and calibre of Airmen we have had through this year’s courses. Their professionalism and adaptability to the ever-changing situation of 2020 has been outstanding,” he said. 

“Obviously COVID-19 has been a challenge for us, like the rest of New Zealand, but it has highlighted that Woodbourne’s training outputs are combined efforts from units across the base.”

He said all RNZAF graduates could be proud of what they had achieved this year.

“Their commitment to their respective courses, especially during the uncertain times where the normal isolation from families was compounded, is to be commended.

“The adaptability of trainees and staff during COVID-19 and their commitment to their roles and responsibilities is something I am proud of as Base Commander.”

Recruits spent 12 weeks at Base Woodbourne immersed in theory, field exercises and weapons training. Officer Cadets spent 16 weeks learning a variety of skills needed to begin a career in leadership with the RNZAF.

Officer Commanding, Command Recruit Training Squadron (CRTS), Squadron Leader Mark Henderson said some of the recruits were away from home for the first time, while some had partners and children at home – both factors that were usual for courses but which were made harder by COVID-19.

However, the even gender split on the course had enhanced the performance of the whole team.

“It’s highlighted the positive influences a diverse workforce can have on our outputs,” he said. 

“We really are starting to replicate the diversity of our communities and nation.”

For Squadron Leader Henderson this was his final graduation as Officer Commanding of CRTS.

“After a long association with the squadron dating back to 2013 it will be an emotional farewell for me. I hope that I have made a positive impact across the many different courses I have been a part of.

“I can honestly say that my time at CRTS has been the best of my 33-year career, because of the opportunity to work with such enthusiastic and professional airmen.”

In 2020, Base Woodbourne graduated 109 Recruits and 34 Officer Cadets, all who are now off completing trade training courses nationwide.

Base Woodbourne is also celebrating 25 years since the opening of the RNZAF Ground Training facility this month. The construction of the Ground Training building at Woodbourne centralised and amalgamated RNZAF Ground Trade Training to one place.

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