NZDF: End of Era as Air Trainers Take Farewell Flight

It was the end of an era when five of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) CT-4E Airtrainers took to the skies over Manawatu and Whanganui for a final farewell flyover today.

Flying in close formation, the CT-4Es have been a familiar sight in the regions’ skies since the model was introduced at RNZAF Base Ohakea in 1998.

More than 190 students have successfully completed the Airtrainer phase of the Wings course after learning to fly in one of 13 aircraft.

Officer Commanding Pilot Training School Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Ben Stephens was the formation leader for the farewell flyover and said it was great to be part of the final formation flight.

“For me, it was important to recognise the contribution of the aircraft and to share the experience with the Pilot Training School team,” SQNLDR Stephens said.

“It’s the end of an era, for sure, and it’s goodbye to a long serving aircraft.”

Commanding Officer Flying Training, Wing Commander (WGCDR) Richard Beaton said the Airtrainer had served well over the years.

“The CT-4E Airtrainer has been the basic training aircraft for our pilots for more than a decade. They have been the training platform for our pilots to learn day and night flying, navigation, instrument and formation flying – skills which they build upon when they go on to fly more complex and larger aircraft,” WGCDR Beaton said.

The CT-4E Airtrainer has also been used by the RNZAF formation aerobatics team, the Red Checkers, showcasing flying skills while performing flying displays around the country.

Future Air Force Wings courses will be carried out on the Beechcraft T-6C Texan ll with seven of eleven new aircraft having been received by the Air Force since the announcement of the new Pilot Training Capability in April.

The RNZAF aerobatic team, the Red Checkers, will fly the T-6C aircraft and a competition has been launched to rename the team to fit their new aircraft. Suggestions can be made on the Air Force Facebook page.

Source / Author: NZDF
Photo: NZDF