NATION

NZ’s First Female NH90 Pilot Enjoys Mercy Help Flights Here

Flight Lieutenant Penny Khull: It also gives me a reality checkof what we are here for. Seeing droves of Fijian children waving and shaking hands with grateful villagers through the
01 Apr 2016 09:00
NZ’s First Female  NH90 Pilot  Enjoys Mercy Help Flights Here
Flight Lieutenant Penny Khull, the first female to qualify as a fly-by-wire computerised NH90 pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, is one of seven pilots from 3 Squadron who are conducting mercy flights in cyclone-hit Fiji. Photo: New Zealand Defence Force

Flight Lieutenant Penny Khull: It also gives me a reality checkof what we are here for.

Seeing droves of Fijian children waving and shaking hands with grateful villagers through the cockpit window of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) NH90 medium utility helicopter are among the highlights so far in Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Penny Khull’s deployment here.

“This is the first time I’ve been deployed on an operation overseas. It has been a great learning experience as I have not operated in these conditions before with heavy payloads and a very humid climate,” said FLTLT Khull. She was the first female to qualify as a fly-by-wire computerised NH90 pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

“The kids coming out and waving at us and villagers shaking my hand through the cockpit window after we deliver aid to their communities make this deployment pretty memorable for me. It also gives me a reality check of what we are here for.”

One of around 400 personnel currently involved in the NZDF’s humanitarian aid operation here, FLTLT Khull is one of seven pilots from the RNZAF’s 3 Squadron who are conducting mercy flights to the devastated areas.

An alumna of Tauranga’s Otumoetai College, she qualified for the RNZAF University Scheme and enlisted in February 2010 after completing her degree in management studies at Waikato University.

“It’s a long-time dream of mine to be a pilot. For my 16th birthday, my two sisters bought me a trial flight on a Cessna; I loved it and was hooked since then,” FLTLT Khull said.

She said the RNZAF training gave all students equal opportunities to complete it and fulfil their potential.

“I never felt that I was treated differently; the training was not easier or harder, because I’m female. Like everyone else, I worked hard and tried to get results.”

FLTLT Khull encourages young women to follow their dream and not overlook a potential career in aviation.

“Just go for it. You never know what you can do, until you give it a shot. I never thought I’d end up where I am now. You just have to give it a go.”

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

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