She once shot Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) helicopters with her camera but now Corporal Jenn Harley is calling the shots from her “flying office” after a decision to change careers.

The 26-year-old, from Upper Hutt, graduated as a Helicopter Loadmaster at RNZAF Base Ohakea on Friday. A loadmaster is responsible for any passengers, underslung loads and rescue hoists.

However, Corporal Harley started her RNZAF career in 2017 as a photographer, often looking through the lens and capturing loadmasters working on their tasks in NH90 helicopters.

It was on one of those occasions that she decided to change her focus and join their ranks.

“Having a helicopter as an office everyday was very appealing and I also wanted a role that was challenging and engaging.”

After training on the A109 light utility helicopters she is now itching to get on with the job on the NH90 medium utility helicopters in No. 3 Squadron.

The squadron 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 Harley, a former Heretaunga College student, said one of the highlights of her training was a “mutual flight”. 

“This was just myself and another student in the back and putting everything we’ve learnt into practice.” 

Corporal Harley said she would recommend joining the RNZAF because of the exposure to the variety of experiences.

“You’ll meet some of the best people you’ll ever know and you’ll get to experience a range of things that a lot of people will never get.”

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