As a third-generation pilot of the RNZAF – flying is in his blood

Family has been the catalyst for new Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Base Manager, Mike Adair, to swap Hamilton for New Plymouth.

After a year of commuting once a week from Taranaki to the Waikato, Mike will take over at the Base Hospital hangar in a straight swap with Fergus McLachlan who heads the other way.

“Fergus’ family is based in Tauranga and mine are here in New Plymouth, so it actually makes logistical sense for both of us,”

“My wife’s family are from New Plymouth and now with our three awesome kids getting older it’s great to be able to spend more time with them.”

Quality time with the family was also a reason for Mike leaving a decorated 13-year career with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in 2020. Military service runs deep in the Adair family, with Mike being a third-generation pilot of the RNZAF. His grandfather flew fighter planes during the Second World War and his father flew helicopters during non-conflict times in the 1980s.

During his RNZAF career Mike supervised the operations of the two helicopters forming part of a combined task group in the Solomon Islands that helped transport election officials and voting material to remote communities for their general election.

“For our family, a military career was about serving a greater purpose — serving our country. By the end of my air force career, I had really developed leadership and management skills which I have been able to carry through into my work with rescue services,”

That sense of purpose and the skills acquired will come in useful for the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter, fresh from a record number of missions in 2020.

“In my first week in New Plymouth, it’s not looking like slowing down. It makes you realise how much of an important resource the helicopter is, so we’re working on resourcing to improve the aircraft and support the crew.”

“There’s a huge variety of jobs: search and rescue, trauma, medical, hospital transfers. I’ve had days where we have been flying non-stop for 6 or 7 hours.”

While Mike has been based in New Plymouth for the past year, he hasn’t had the opportunity to sample all that Taranaki has to offer but should have no shortage of local guides having previously worked with fellow crew Luke Miller and Ed Garvey in the services.

“Because it’s so isolated, Taranaki makes me think this is what New Zealand was founded on. Since starting I’ve been surprised by the impact the helicopter has on the community. It’s a little gem of a community, people just drop into the hangar to say g’day and have a cuppa with you.”

Away from the rescue helicopter it’s hardly surprising to learn that Mike spends most of his time with the family down at the beach and is looking forward to the run of summer concerts at the Brooklands Bowl.