Corporal thriving as Helicopter Loadmaster

Helicopter Loadmaster in training Corporal Jono Bartley has just completed Exercise Blackbird, №3 Squadron’s annual mountain flying and level readiness training in Marlborough.

Being a key member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) helicopter crew is a dream come true for helicopter loadmaster in training Corporal Jono Bartley.

Corporal Bartley, who was born in Christchurch but raised in Hamilton, has just completed Exercise Blackbird, №3 Squadron’s annual mountain flying and level readiness training in Marlborough.

Corporal Bartley always wanted to join the RNZAF but he also wanted to study at university, and he has been able to do both.

“The best thing for me about joining the Air Force has been the opportunity to do so many things. I have had help upskilling with the New Zealand Defence Force study assistance programs to pay for my university papers,” he said.

Being a helicopter loadmaster involved directing the helicopter crew to achieve its task and a lot of planning went into each flight, he said.

“There is a lot of planning, from calculating weight and balances to organising and briefing people to be winched.

“The helicopter loadmaster can direct the pilot to move the helicopter, and then operate the winch or manage troops who need to rappel out, or sometimes go down on the winch ourselves to rescue someone.

“It is such a varied job day to day. No flight is ever the same and there is always a new adventure to go on.”

Anyone keen to join the RNZAF should work on their fitness, because the fitter people are the better start they get, Corporal Bartley said.

“It is a long road to get to being a helicopter loadmaster — applying is just the first step. Then you have to go through selection boards, aircrew survival and other courses before you get to fly.

“You need to go in motivated, and with the end goal in mind, because you will get there with hard work and a good attitude. It is definitely worth it.”

To find out more about being a helicopter loadmaster in the Royal New Zealand Air Force visit www.defencecareers.mil.nz/air-force.