13 March 2020
Wellington man Wynton Brown has turned a strong background in science and experience as an industrial electrical equipment salesman into a challenging role as an avionics technician with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).
At a recent training exercise at RNZAF Base Ohakea, Leading Aircraftman Brown was busy checking the avionics of two RNZAF C-130 Hercules aircraft before they flew each day.
“My core role is checking that the aircraft electrical systems – all the avionics on the aircraft – are good to go and the aircraft is fit to fly,” he said. “I can also rectify any issues that might arise while on exercise.”
He was part of a contingent from No.40 Squadron from RNZAF Base Auckland taking part in the exercise, which incorporated tactical flying, night flying with night vision goggles and airdrops.
His morning maintenance sessions on the C-130s included installing secure communications that allow encryption of radio transmissions when the aircraft is on operations.
“Installing it now enables the aircrew to get used to using it during training,” he said. “It’s complex to load into this older aircraft frame, needing a bit of finessing to get it right.”
Leading Aircraftman Brown joined the RNZAF five years ago when looking for a new challenge.
“I have a Bachelor of Science and was working as a sales territory manager in the lower North Island, selling industrial electrical equipment,” he said. “That was a very solo lifestyle, away from home three to four nights each week, and usually my team was at the end of the phone.
“By contrast, working for the Air Force you are immersed in a team and in a focussed environment. I’ve always done well in teams and I enjoy that camaraderie and teamwork.
After the recruit training course at RNZAF Base Woodbourne he chose avionics as a trade, because it fitted with his experience with industrial electrical equipment, and he liked that avionics training was quite academic.
“After the training course I studied aeronautical engineering at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology for four months, then trade training at Woodbourne for 11 months, which included a lot of maths and physics,” he said.
Following that he got on-the-job training at Ohakea for 18 months, then returned to Woodbourne for six months to complete his advanced trade training in avionics for six months.
“Once completed I was posted to No. 40 Squadron, which was great because I was looking forward to travelling with the unit,” he said. “Since then I’ve probably been deployed to a dozen countries and down to Antarctica.”
In addition to his busy career Leading Aircraftman Brown also plays rugby for the RNZAF team.