16 July 2018
Nathan Hodges enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) nearly three decades ago with two clear goals: to escape small-town comfort and to see the world.
Raised in Renwick in Marlborough, Flight Sergeant Hodges said he had long ago achieved his dreams, having deployed to all but one of the world’s seven continents as an Air Loadmaster with No.40 Squadron.
He also travelled extensively when he represented the RNZAF and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in international football and cricket tournaments.
“I’ve worked in extreme environments – in Antarctica, where we braved minus 74 degree temperatures and whiteout conditions, and in the Middle East, where high temperatures can be stifling,” he said.
“The only continent I have yet to visit is South America.”
Flight Sergeant Hodges is currently posted in the Middle East as part of a 32-member NZDF detachment helping to transport supplies and military personnel for coalition operations in the region.
“It’s been great to work once again with our partners, particularly the Australian Defence Force,” Flight Sergeant Hodges said.
As Air Loadmaster, he helps ensure the aircraft’s cargo is properly consigned, checked and packed, with its weight and balance computed correctly. He also helps look after all passengers on the flight and liaises with external agencies such as Air Movements personnel on behalf of the aircraft captain.
“The operation has enabled our crew to consolidate and put into practice the many hours of training we’ve undertaken,” he said.
“Our team is about solutions, not problems. Every time we face a potential issue, we ask ourselves, ‘How can we carry this cargo safely’, as opposed to, ‘It can’t go’.”
Flight Sergeant Hodges joined the RNZAF in January 1991, a year after graduating from Marlborough Boys’ College.
Both his parents also served in the Air Force and he was born in Singapore when they were posted there.
“The three rewarding things about my job are – I get to meet a lot of people, the exhilaration of flying and seeing younger staff learning the ropes and become fully integrated with the team.”