RNZAF Helicopter Crewman Officer Awarded New Year Honour

1 January 2020

Group Captain (GPCAPT) Mike Cannon, NZBM has been awarded the Distinguished Service Decoration for services to the New Zealand Defence Force in the 2020 New Year’s Honours.

GPCAPT Cannon said it’s a great honour and one that he feels particularly grateful for receiving.

“There are many people throughout the New Zealand Defence Force doing fantastic work every day of the year. I think it is almost as much an award to my family for the times they have willingly got on with life when I have been missing yet again,” he said.

GPCAPT Cannon said he feels extremely lucky to be able to do the job he does.

“The reality is that of course it’s not just about me but about the huge amount of people that have supported me, flown with me, or simply helped me deliver on the expectations of the people of New Zealand,” he said.

GPCAPT Cannon joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as an Aircraft Technician in 1991 and has made a significant contribution to the development and delivery of an effective utility helicopter force for New Zealand.

Early in his career he developed expertise across the complete range of helicopter crewman trade skills, establishing himself as a tradesman, crewmember and instructor, leading to his commissioning as the first Helicopter Crewman Officer.

In 2007 he became a foundation member of the Helicopter Introduction into Service Project Team. In this capacity he was responsible for planning the transition of the Air Force from the 'Huey' and 'Sioux' helicopters to the new A109 and NH90 aircraft, with a focus on cabin configuration and systems, and helicopter crewmen training and safety.

This was a crucial role, since the effective capability of a utility helicopter is delivered from the cabin, whether it be the carriage of passengers and freight, casualties, fast roping devices or control of weapon systems.

Following the 2010 Anzac Day helicopter tragedy, he provided support to the families of those involved and led the team that addressed findings of the subsequent Court of Inquiry.

As the Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron since January 2017, he has had responsibility for introducing several operational capabilities for the NH90 helicopter that were required for the aircraft to receive 'Type Certification'. These included aeromedical evacuation, flight-deck operations, low level formation night operations and, most importantly, operating overseas. GPCAPT Cannon has been a pivotal contributor to the development and delivery of an effective utility helicopter force for New Zealand and managed the unit through one of its busiest periods of service.

GPCAPT Cannon said the highlight of his career so far has been commanding No 3 Squadron RNZAF and working alongside the amazing people within it.
“It is such a fulfilling role and the great thing about it is the feeling of contributing to something much bigger. No. 3 Squadron routinely works in support of New Zealand Army, the Royal New Zealand Navy and a range of government agencies.

“It’s the diversity that makes it so fulfilling. One of the most pleasing things is to be able to land anywhere and talk to everyday New Zealanders about their Air Force,” he said.

This page was last reviewed on 2 February 2020.