SQNLDR Richard 'Dick' Deihl at work in the cockpit of the RNZAF C-130
29 May 2013
Providing humanitarian aid is one of the Royal New Zealand Air Force's key tasks, and this week was no exception for navigator Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Richard 'Dick' Deihl who has just returned from a mission delivering a fire truck to the South Pacific.
Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia has seen a series of serious fires, that have caused damage to the State Legislative Chambers and a large tuna canning factory. There was a clear need to get a fire truck to the island.
"There are limited ways to get such a large fire engine to the Island. The C-130 Hercules is one of the only aircraft that could do it because it has a cargo space big enough to take the fire truck, and is agile enough to land on a small airfields in remote areas," said SQNLDR Deihl.
"It was a pretty amazing plan from New Zealand firefighter, Keith Norton. He identified the need and he has done a great job behind the scenes to personally ensure that Micronesia was given a fire appliance.
"It's a pretty special opportunity being able to support our Pacific neighbours like this."
As a navigator SQNLDR Deihl is responsible for programming the flight management system, planning the flight, fuel and power requirements and establishing the maximum altitude to ensure that they run to time.
Joining the Air Force in 1998, SQNLDR Deihl has been a navigator with No. 40 Squadron on the C-130 Hercules his whole career. He graduated as an instructor in 2005, and is now back with No. 40 Squadron training other navigators.
Born in Palmerston North, his family lived in Bulls and he attended Clifton School and later went to Rangitikei College in Marton.
It's a fast paced life in the Air Force for SQNLDR Deihl. Almost as soon as he returns to Base Auckland he is off on another mission to Papua New Guinea.
"I am constantly travelling and continuously training. I have spent more time out of New Zealand than in it since I joined. We go to some amazing places. I have been to Antarctica, which is a place most people don't get to see, more than 40 times, and to Afghanistan more times than I can count, sometimes for months at a time."
"I would absolutely encourage young men and women to join the Air Force. You get to see the world, work with some great people and make some really great friends on the way."