For trainee pilot Magnus Holding learning to fly solo in formation in the sky over Marlborough has been the highlight of his career so far
12 April 2017
A desire to contribute to the peacekeeping and humanitarian aid operations the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is internationally renowned for prompted Magnus Holding to choose a military career.
Pilot Officer Holding, 24, from Epsom in Auckland, is a trainee pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No. 14 Squadron, based at Ohakea in Manawatu.
He joined the Air Force in 2011, after finishing secondary school at Auckland Grammar School. Since joining the Air Force he has completed a Bachelor of Arts with honours in politics, paid for by the RNZAF, received six months of officer training and is now halfway through pilot training.
He has just completed Exercise Wiseowl at Base Woodbourne, near Blenheim, where he spent two weeks learning solo formation flying in the Air Force’s new T-6C Texan II aircraft with nine other trainee pilots from No. 14 Squadron.
The planes are purpose-built for military pilot training and have the latest technology, including ejection seats, collision-avoidance and ground awareness warning systems, a pressurised cockpit and personal locator beacons for each pilot.
They are allowing this latest batch of trainee pilots to go higher, further and faster than their predecessors.
“The Woodbourne exercise was outstanding,” he said. “Learning how to fly side-by-side with my course mates was exhilarating, and because we were on deployment the camaraderie and social opportunities were memorable.
“This has been the highlight of my career so far.”
He is thriving on the challenges of flying the Texans and the variety he encounters in his work each day.
“One day I might be flying formation over the Marlborough Sounds, and the next I’ll be practising aerobatics around the East Coast of the North Island. It’s never dull.”
Holding also appreciates that physical fitness is an accepted requirement of life in the military, and that personnel are given ample opportunity to pursue their chosen sports.
“I am a keen basketball and volleyball player, and each year play for my base team and often for the Air Force team around the country.
“I have also had the opportunity to represent the Air Force in a basketball tournament in Melbourne for two weeks.”
Holding has no hesitation in recommending a career in the NZDF.
“If you’re a fan of both individual and team pursuits and are always keen to learn and experience new challenges this is the perfect environment for it,” he said.
“Every day brings a new challenge and you have an awesome group of teammates to go through it all with.
“For me another great motivator is that my job in the Air Force means the primary output of my work is often either delivering aid or helping build peace where conditions are significantly worse than we see in New Zealand.”