21 August 2014
LAC Mitchell Taylor at RAAF Base Darwin during Exercise Pitch Black 14
Pumping up to 600,000 litres of fuel a day is business as usual for Auckland man, Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Mitchell Taylor, who is part of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Aviation Refuelling team fuelling fast jets at Exercise Pitch Black 2014.
LAC Taylor is an airman in the Auckland-based 209 Squadron Aviation Fuel section. He is in Darwin participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2014, which is 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 and provides the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) with an opportunity to practise deployment and integration of ground support personnel into coalition environments.
Exercise Pitch Black 2014 is not LAC Taylor’s first time fuelling fast jets with the RAAF. In 2012 he was based at RAAF Base Townsville and RAAF Base Tindall as part of an ongoing reciprocal exchange programme between the New Zealand and Australian Defence Forces. During this exchange he supported the RAAF F/A-18s at both of these bases.
Exercise Pitch Black 14 is his first time working with the RAAF at its Darwin base. He says that the opportunity to participate in the exercise has reinforced for him the high standard of training he has received as a RNZAF aviation refueller and he is enjoying the opportunity to see how his Australian counterparts provide refuelling support for a multi-national force with a wide variety of aircraft.
“We are trained to internationally recognised standards through Air BP, which allows us to work with fuel anywhere and at anytime in a safe and professional manner. It’s been great having the opportunity to work with the Australians and see how they operate with the different aircraft from the participating nations.
“We’ll go from having a flight line empty of aircraft to 35-40 jets arriving in a 20-minute period needing gas immediately so they can get back in the air and back to their mission. It’s really rewarding to be part of the team working in this environment,” he said.
LAC Taylor will return to his Auckland base later this month and start the selection process to become aircrew on the RNZAF P-3K2 Orion aircraft as an Air Ordnance specialist.
For further information please contact Defence Communications Group, 021 487 980.
Exercise Pitch Black is a multi-national air combat exercise that takes place in the Northern Territory of Australia every two years. It is the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest training exercise of 2014 and includes participants from New Zealand, the United States, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and New Caledonia. The exercise is taking place over the period 1- 22 August 2014.
The NZDF is contributing three military working dogs and 50 personnel in total, comprising force protection elements, aviation refuellers, medics, ground support equipment technicians, chefs, communications specialists, air movements operators, Headquarters staff and augmentees.