19 August 2014
Aircraftman Paul Thompson at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin during Exercise Pitch Black 2014.
Masterton man Aircraftman (AC) Paul Thompson was 46 years old when he decided to “step up” and join the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). A year later, he is in Darwin participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2014 as a Communications and Information Systems (CIS) specialist.
AC Thompson, a former Rathkeale College pupil, is an airman in the Ohakea-based RNZAF 209 Squadron Air CIS unit. He is one of three RNZAF CIS specialists working in a coalition environment, connecting and maintaining communications for a multi-national force exercising in the heat of an Australian Northern Territory winter in the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) largest multi-national combat air training exercise of the year.
The three-week exercise aims to foster multi-national partnerships and co-operation and has brought military forces from six nations to Australia’s Northern Territory. The exercise involves a combination of day and night flying which provides the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) with an opportunity to practise deployment and integration of ground support personnel into coalition environments.
This is AC Thompson’s first overseas exercise with the NZDF and his first time working with the RAAF. He said the opportunity to participate in Exercise Pitch Black 2014 has reinforced for him the benefits of a career in the RNZAF, provided a chance to build relationships and observe how CIS support is provided in a multi-national environment.
“A colleague I worked with in the telecommunications industry recommended the Air Force as a good option for a change in career. When I applied, I was glad to find out that I wasn’t too old to join the Air Force and I haven’t looked back. I’ve enjoyed the content and delivery of the courses and training I’ve done since I joined and I’m really enjoying the chance to work with young, open-minded people who are professional and driven to succeed, both in New Zealand and here on this exercise,” said AC Thompson.
AC Thompson will return to his Ohakea base in late August, where he will continue with his extramural studies towards a Diploma in Business Management Information Systems from Massey University and participate in the Wellington Floorball Open tournament in September.
For further information please contact Defence Communications Group, 021 487 980.