Air Force takes on Southern mountains - Media day Exercise Blackbird

OH 08-0525-85.JPG:  A Royal New Zealand Air Force Iroquois tackles the mountains around St Arnaud as part of Exercise Blackbird.

OH 08-0525-85.JPG:  A Royal New Zealand Air Force Iroquois tackles the mountains around St Arnaud as part of Exercise Blackbird.

04 June 2011

The mountains around Saint Arnaud in the Nelson Lakes region will be buzzing with activity this week as Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter crews embark on Exercise Blackbird 2011.

The mountain flying exercise will involve up to five Iroquois helicopters and more than 70 personnel.

The helicopters and crews will conduct daily flights from 04 – 15 July to develop the skills required for operations in mountainous regions.

No 3 Squadron Iroquois pilot, Squadron Leader Ben Stephens said the exercise is designed to enhance the skills of our aircrew for search and rescue operations or overseas deployments.

“Mountain flying presents particular challenges. The geography, extremes of temperature and changeable weather are conditions vastly different to our normal operating environment. We’re also pushing the helicopter right up to the limit of its capability at times, so the flying can be very demanding,” said Squadron Leader Stephens.

Media are invited to spend the day with No 3 Squadron at RNZAF Dip Flat on Thursday 7 July 2011. The programme is as follows:

1000hr:Arrive RNZAF Dip Flat Camp
1015hr:Briefing by Detachment Commander Squadron Leader Marcel Manders
•Iroquois familiarisation brief
•Dip Flat Camp brief
•Maintenance brief
•Local flight (Weather dependent)
•Interviews as required.
•Lunch included.

1430hrs:Depart Dip Flat

All media will be expected to transport themselves to and from RNZAF Dip Flat although there will be limited seats for those media arriving at Blenheim Airport. Media intending to attend are to register their interest with Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki on 021 420 899 no later than 1600hrs, 6 July.


Location: RNZAF Dip Flat Location: Dip Flat is situated at the top of the South Island of New Zealand just off highway 63. It is about 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Nelson airport, 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Blenheim, 1 hour 40 minutes from Picton and 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Murchison.

Turn right into Wairau - Hanmer Springs Hydro Rd and drive along the 10km sealed road. The road passes through three fords before reaching a major fork in the road, take the left fork to Dip Flat. Note that the fords can be in flood if there has been significant rain.


This page was last reviewed on 4 July 2011.