15 July 2013
Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Mike West with his silver medal from the world trade skills ‘Olympics’.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft maintenance engineer has shown that every aircraft has a silver lining by winning a silver medal at the world trade skills ‘Olympics’.
Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Mike West was part of the Tool Blacks team from New Zealand that competed in 13 categories at the 42nd Worldskills International Competition in Leipzig, Germany.
"The first thing that struck me on arriving at the competition was the scale", said LAC West.
"There were 52 countries represented with 1004 competitors from all around the world, and the competition was held in a number of huge venues which helped me to appreciate the prestige of the event."
A former student of FAHS Feilding High School, and now based at RNZAF Base Whenuapai, LAC West is part of the Maintenance Support Squadron. As aircraft maintenance engineers are often employed in specific sections of the industry they don’t get to experience all aspects of their trade on a day to day basis, so LAC West was put through his paces before he left for Germany.
During a week long intensive training programme he honed his skills at aircraft electrical wiring fabrication and fault finding from scratch. He also spent time in Christchurch familiarising himself with the type of helicopter to be used in Germany, plus two days of engine familiarisation, and three days of trial competition at the Air New Zealand Training School in Auckland.
"The other competitors came from countries with a lot of experience in the competition, so I was pretty pleased about achieving a decent placing" said LAC West.
"There are so many people to thank for helping me to prepare and for their help during the competition. They know who they are, and I will thank them individually as I catch up with them. Mr Mike Naus from the NZ Defence College has been great and I feel like the result has done justice to all of his hard work."
Worldskills is held every two years, and considered the Olympics for trade skills where young people worldwide compete for the title "the best of the best" in their chosen trade. A wide range of trades are covered including aircraft maintenance, cookery, floristry, bricklaying, welding, robotics, panel beating, hairdressing and visual marketing.
RNZAF and ServiceIQ - that develops aviation qualifications in conjunction with RNZAF and the aviation industry – provided the support LAC West needed to travel and compete at Worldskills in Germany.
For more information please contact Squadron Leader Lyn Coromandel, Defence Communications Group on 04 496 0738 or 020 401 19788.