Air Force In Nelson Skies

An Air Force marshaller guides an RNZAF C-130 Hercules into place at Nelson Airport in preparation for Exercise Wiseowl.
An Air Force marshaller guides an RNZAF C-130 Hercules into place at Nelson Airport in preparation for Exercise Wiseowl.

1 May 2014

From 05 - 15 May the airfield at Nelson Airport will be home to 80-120 Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel from Base Ohakea as they deploy for Exercise Wiseowl.

Exercise Wiseowl is a Pilot Training Squadron deployment designed to test military student pilots in elements of military flying including low level flight, navigation, formation flying and deployed operations. The exercise provides student pilots with a taste of what it’s like working away from their home base Ohakea, and in field conditions for the first time. Six Airtrainers will be deployed to Nelson for the exercise, with other fixed wing and rotary aircraft deployed for short periods.

Squadron Leader Tim Costley is looking forward to the two weeks in Nelson and says the location provides an ideal training ground for student pilots, “The Nelson and Tasman communities have always been very supportive of the Air Force and we are pleased to be running Wiseowl from Nelson Airport.”

Up to 32 sorties will be flown each day, making it likely that locals will see the aircraft flying, often in close formation, throughout the region.

“We will only be overhead the townships for a few seconds at a time but the frequency of aircraft will be something different as people might only be used to seeing relatively infrequent civilian flights.

“All Air Force flights are conducted within strict operating parameters in accordance with Civil Aviation regulations. Members of the public can be reassured that the operations are being conducted with safety in mind,” said Squadron Leader Costley.

Accommodation will be in 40 tents that will be erected on the airfield. These will provide for field catering, a field medical facility, an administration unit, an operations headquarters, a logistics unit providing camp supplies and spares, as well as a maintenance centre for the aircraft.

Apart from its operational tasking, Exercise Wiseowl is a chance for schools, organisations, and the general public to visit the camp to meet Air Force personnel and find out more about the Air Force.

The camp will be open to the public on Saturday 10 May between 10:30 am and 2:00 pm. People will be able to get up close and personal with the Air Force’s state of the art NH90 and A109 helicopters, C-130 Hercules and B 200 Kingair, see the Airtrainers in action and watch displays by military fire-fighters and dog handlers.
For more information contact Natala Low, Defence Communications Group on 021 057 1574
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This page was last reviewed on 5 May 2014.