As a young child, Henry Chapman used to watch United States Air Force stealth bombers flying over his family home in Kuwait.
As a teenager, he piloted a light plane for Whanganui Anzac Day parade flyovers.
Now, freshly graduated from the 14-week recruit training course at Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Woodbourne, he is hoping to carve out an Air Force career alongside like-minded aviation enthusiasts.
Aircraftman Chapman, 20, was born in Britain but spent most of his life in Kuwait, where his father was stationed supporting the Kuwait Land Forces.
“My father is a British Army veteran. He served in the Gulf War and Bosnia, amongst others.
“In 2003-04 while we were in Kuwait, my family was evacuated back to England while my dad had to stay as part of the Kuwait Land Forces, deployed on the border,” he said.
“As a kid from Kuwait that used to watch stealth bombers fly over me, I never thought I’d be part of an Air Force.
He spent his teenage years in Whanganui, where he attended Whanganui High School and gained his pilot’s licence.
“I did the fly overs for the Anzac parades in Whanganui with the local flying club in 2017-18.”
He then spent two years training for the hospitality industry before he decided it wasn’t for him. He joined the Air Force for the challenge it presented.
“I wanted to join an organisation where I knew I could make a difference and enjoy working with people with the same interests.
“Everything I have done so far has been a new challenge. We have all gained some incredible skills that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”
He will now begin training to become a firefighter, a trade that leads fire and rescue services at the RNZAF airfields and bases.
He said he was looking forward to the next steps of his career and hoped to serve for as long as possible.
To learn more about a career in the Air Force visit www.defencecareers.mil.nz(external link)