Air Force Man Soars to Silver in WorldSkills Competition


Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Dan Cornwall, won a silver medal in aviation maintenance at the recent WorldSkills New Zealand competition.

6 October 2016

Tisbury man Dan Cornwall won a silver medal in aviation maintenance at the recent “Olympics of trade skills”, the 2016 WorldSkills New Zealand competition.

Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Cornwall, 19, was representing the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) at New Zealand’s premier work-skill competition. The competition was held at Wintec, in Hamilton, from 30 September to 1 October.

The competition featured 67 regional finalists showcasing their work skills across 14 industry categories. Each competitor completed a project over two days, replicating “real-world” problems and tasks.

Much of LAC Cornwall’s preparation for the competition happened in his day job, as an aircraft technician based at Ohakea Military Air Base, near Palmerston North. He is posted to No. 3 Squadron, where he maintains the RNZAF’s NH90 helicopters.

“But there was also a lot of specialist training involved, for tasks that we don’t do every day,” he said.

Winning the silver medal was a good feeling, and a relief after putting in a lot of work and training and enduring a long, pressure-filled two days of work, he said.

He was part of a team of 10 New Zealand Defence Force members who won six medals, including four gold, and the Sir John Ingram Trophy for Best Region.

WorldSkills New Zealand is held every second year, alternating with the international competitions. Next year WorldSkills Oceania will be held in Melbourne, followed by WorldSkills International in Abu Dhabi.

The competition was one of the highlights of LAC Cornwall’s four-year career in the RNZAF. He joined in 2012 after leaving Southland Boys’ High School, seeking a “career that is hands-on but still very technical and challenging”.

As an aircraft technician he is responsible for preparing and keeping the NH90s airworthy for daily flying tasks, as well as carrying out scheduled servicing and unscheduled maintenance or fault rectification. No. 3 Squadron also has a Search and Rescue helicopter on standby.

His training involved three months on a recruit course, nine months of initial trade training at Woodbourne near Blenheim, and then two years of on-the-job training.

“I was also attracted to the lifestyle and training package that the Air Force offers. I wanted to be able to travel with my job, and contribute in some form to our country,” he said.

He has not been disappointed.

“What I enjoy most about being in the Air Force is probably the lifestyle,” he said. “You meet loads of cool people and make a heap of good mates.

This page was last reviewed on 6 October 2016.