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Source: New Zealand Defence Force

18 June 2020

A passion for aviation and a private pilot’s licence has led 19-year-old Pilot Officer Carmen Haybittle to joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) to fly for a living.

She has just graduated the 26-week long RNZAF Officer Commissioning Course (ROCC) at Base Woodbourne and will now head to Base Ohakea to start pilot training.

Pilot Officer Haybittle, who was born in Canada but grew up in Christchurch and Auckland’s North Shore, will follow in the footsteps of her great-grandfather who was a pilot in the RNZAF and served as an instructor during World War II.

“I aspire to become an instructor and train pilots, just like my great granddad did. I have always wanted motivate others by sharing my experiences,” she says.

Her father served in the RNZAF as an aircraft engineer and her older brother is also currently serving as an avionics technician.

Pilot Officer Haybittle attended the second ever Schools to Skies when she was in Year 12 and enjoyed learning more about the RNZAF and what careers it had to offer.

“We spent a handful of days living on base and experiencing many different trades and met up super passionate and inspiring RNZAF members.

“It was a very hands-on experience and a highly beneficial exposure to a range of different careers in the RNZAF,” she said.

She said ROCC had been very rewarding, and although at times she struggled with fatigue, to successfully finish everything on the course had been great.

“To have received so much positive and constructive feedback has been super-valuable for personal development and growing leadership skills.

“I’ve also appreciated the comradeship that comes from being on course with such a motivated and outgoing group of people. We’ve made life-long friendships and networks through shared experiences… and have a heap of fun memories to look back on,” Pilot Officer Haybittle said.

She was looking forward to the next phase of training which she expected would be “challenging, very full on and very fast paced”.

“I have had a chat to a bunch of RNZAF pilots in all different phases of their careers and they love what they do. I look forward to especially making the most of the training, flying a T-6 Texan, and taking it one day at a time.”

She said that anyone wanting to join the RNZAF should take as many opportunities as possible while still at school, including experiences like Outward Bound, Spirit of Adventure and School to Skies.