A former Napier man may well be the next Pete "Maverick" Mitchell after playing a crucial part in an Air Force victory in the United States.
Flying Officer Dan McCormack, a former Napier Boys' High School student, acted as the logistics officer for the 50-strong Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) team that won a Top Cat prize last week for best overall performance in an series of major training exercises.
The No 40 Squadron took the top prize in Little Rock, Arkansas, after beating their American counterparts during preparations to deploy US ground forces to the Middle East.
Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki said the exercises focused on support to ground units, and included air-drops, air-land missions and deploying paratroopers. The challenges were undertaken in high-intensity combat environments and as logistics officer, Mr McCormack's role was vital. "He was responsible for liaison with New Zealand and his counterparts to source aircraft parts, equipment and other logistics items needed to maintain the high-flying tempo of the exercise.
"He also held the purse strings and was responsible for managing the finances for the Air Force contingent."
Mr Tamariki said the Top Cat prize recognised an overall score measured through a database that tested, among other things, accuracy, time and targets, and how long it took the aircraft to turn around.
Mr McCormack said the win came on his first overseas deployment and that "he loved every minute of it".
He joined the RNZAF in 2005 as part of the undergraduate scheme while studying at Victoria University for a bachelor of communications degree. He will soon complete his law studies.
At present he is posted to the RNZAF base in Auckland. "I have really enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the Air Force," Mr McCormack said. "They have a great culture and you can develop your skills through further education, professional development and a great mix of sports and service life. I enjoy the variety and doing my part to help and serve New Zealand.