It is a long way from rural Waipawa to the coast of Somalia, or the landscape of the Middle East, but travel was what Zach Taylor was seeking when he signed up for the New Zealand Navy and travel is what he got.

But it is not all about sailing the high seas to distant lands anymore with the 26-year-old having recently attained a unique role which will see him spend most of his service time in the air as a senior helicopter crewman.

Earlier this month he and New Zealand Air Force Sergeant Don Adshead were promoted within 6 Squadron which is effectively a blend of air and sea helicopter services and operates out of Whenuapai air base.

Mr Taylor, who carried a leading crewman's rank within the navy's helicopter arm, was promoted to Petty Officer and in a couple of months time he will be on the move again - to the United States.


"I've been selected to go to the US as part of the new Seasprites programme," he said.

The navy is set to roll out 10 Super Seasprite SH-2G helicopters to replace it's present and ageing fleet of five with the new aircraft set to touch down in New Zealand next year.

"It's pretty exciting and I can't wait - the squadron is going to get so much bigger."

More aircraft would mean more operational time for the service, and more challenges and more travel.

"I joined the navy in 2007 straight from high school - I went to Central Hawke's Bay College," said Mr Taylor.

"I just wanted to travel and get out and see the world."

His initial role as a combat systems specialist was deep inside the operations rooms of the navy frigates, far from the skies above. But in early 2011 he bought some raffle tickets, and everything changed.

It was a services fund-raising raffle with a flight in a helicopter as the prize.

"I wanted it - so I took as many raffle tickets as I could and I got it," he said.

He also got talking to a senior pilot and then heard one of his supervisors had moved over to 6 Squadron.

"So I went for it."

His work as a leading crewman has him taking to the air three or four times a week, and also saw him involved in an eight-month deployment which included anti-piracy missions off Somalia.

"It's hard work but it's a great lifestyle and the hard work pays off."

A navy spokesperson said the promotions of Mr Taylor and Mr Adshead was "a much deserved recognition of the experience and professionalism displayed in their careers to date, and ensures 6 Squadron has the right people in the right place to continue its culture of excellence in meeting the challenges of the future".