From today the Royal New Zealand Air Force will run its “Exercise Skytrain” in Wanaka and surrounding regions.
The C-130 Hercules training, scheduled to run until March 26, is used by No40 Squadron to consolidate skills learnt at Base Auckland.
Detachment commander Squadron Leader Rob Attrill said the exercise would provide crews with a range of flying training, including over unfamiliar and challenging terrain, co-ordinating pallet drops into drop zones and landing the aircraft on runways different from those in Auckland.
One C-130 Hercules and personnel from Auckland, Ohakea and Woodbourne would deploy to Wanaka for the exercise.
“An important part of our training is being able to operate effectively and successfully away from our home base, so every year we run a Skytrain exercise in New Zealand to further hone these skills.
“Skytrain exercises our support elements in supporting airborne operations and further prepares us for overseas-based exercises with our partners, and ultimately operations in support of New Zealand interests,” Sqn Ldr Attrill said.
The skills had been used in real-life scenarios, including last December when RNZAF deployed on United States Air Force-led Operation Christmas Drop, from Guam.
During the operation, which was turned into a Netflix movie last year, pallet loads of goods were dropped to people living on remote islands and atolls in the Pacific.
“We are looking forward to coming to Wanaka,” he said.
“Communities in the South are largely supportive of the air force and it will be great to support local businesses while we are here.”
While based in Wanaka, the Hercules will also land at Timaru and Oamaru airfields and fly around the lower South Island.
It will include low-level tactical flying, so the public may see the aircraft flying lower than usual.