From Red Checkers to C-130 Hercules

FLTLT Jimmy Davidson pictured alongside the C-130 Hercules at Warbirds over Wanaka at Easter this year
FLTLT Jimmy Davidson pictured alongside the C-130 Hercules at Warbirds over Wanaka at Easter this year

13 June 2014

Former Matamata man, Jimmy Davidson, has no regrets over the career choice he made in his last year at Matamata College. He’s now Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Davidson of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

FLTLT Davidson joined the Air Force in 2006 where he was one of just four New Zealand officer cadets to study at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, from which he graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Technology and Aeronautical Engineering, before returning to New Zealand to undertake pilot training at Ohakea.

“I always wanted to be a pilot, since I was a little kid watching the air shows. The Air Force is pretty cool and it was an attractive way to get into flying training.”

On graduation from pilot training in 2010 FLTLT Davidson received the coveted Merton Sword of Honour, awarded from time-to-time to the best all-round officer graduating from a pilot or air warfare officer training course, with emphasis on powers of leadership and officer qualities.  Exceptional results are required; the Merton Sword has been awarded only 36 times since its inception in 1955. 

After graduation FLTLT Davidson served as an instructor in the Pilot Training Squadron at Ohakea, and also spent two flying seasons in the famous Red Checkers Flying Display Team. The Red Checkers perform precision flying displays above towns and cities across the country in the Air Force’s distinctive yellow CT-4 Airtrainers during the summer.

“You fly in very close formation so you have to trust that the other members of the team won’t make a mistake, and they have to have the same trust in you. I was lucky to have been a part of the Red Checkers team, it was a fantastic experience and I certainly learned a lot.”

FLTLT Davidson is currently a co-pilot on the C-130 Hercules in 40 Squadron at Whenuapai. He describes the transition from the Airtrainer to the Hercules as a “fairly steep learning curve”.

“I really enjoy flying the Herc. It’s actually quite nimble for such a large aircraft and you forget it’s so big when you are flying it.

“I was one of the pilots who flew a Herc down to Wanaka for Warbirds this year … it was a great air show, and I was lucky to be involved with it,” he said.


This page was last reviewed on 13 June 2014.