Ryan Thomas, First Officer
Tell us about your 'department': What does it do/Why work in this area?
I work as a First Officer for Air Nelson on the Bombardier Q300. We fly scheduled domestic flights throughout the country from Kerikeri in the north through to Invercargill in the south and everywhere in between. We also do a number of charters for anything from sports teams to Church groups to anywhere in New Zealand.
Being a First Officer with Air Nelson is by far the best job I've had. The people that you work with are great and make every day on the line enjoyable and fun. No two days are the same which makes the job interesting and constantly evolving. Flying to a number of different locations throughout the network means that you never get bored of flying the same route. The Dash 8 is a great aircraft to fly and is well up to the conditions that we fly in. The variety of Air Nelson bases means that there is a place to suite those that love city life or those that love the smaller provincial bases. The company is also flexible if you need to book leave and the culture within the entire company is great.
Where did your journey start?
My journey to become a pilot for Air New Zealand started in 2005 when I was lucky enough to be selected to go to the Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School held in Matamata. From there I went on to get my Commercial Pilots license at Bay Flight Aviation. After I obtained my Commercial Pilots license I was lucky enough to get a job flying the skydive plane in Tauranga. Following a year in Tauranga I completed my instrument rating at Sun Air Aviation, shortly after that I moved to Auckland to start a job with the then Mountain Air (now known as Fly My Sky). I was lucky enough to get an interview with Air Nelson after 18 months with Mountain Air. I started shortly after and haven't looked back since.
Where's your journey taken you so far within Air New Zealand?
Since starting with Air Nelson I have been able to gain an Airline Transport Pilot License, as well as further my academic studies with Massey University. Air New Zealand has a small fund that employees can apply for to help assist with further education that benefits the company.
Some of my highlights working for Air Nelson so far have been flying into Christchurch shortly after the February 2011 earthquake to help evacuate people and flying in supplies and rescue personal. Flying a charter for the Russian Rugby team after their final match against Australia in the 2011 rugby world cup. That was great fun... and a great laugh!
Where do you hope your journey will take you?
I hope that I will progress in Air Nelson to gain my command within the next 24 months. I also intend to continue my studies with Massey University towards my degree in Aviation Management. I hope to remain with Air New Zealand and join the Boeing fleet.
What Air New Zealand value do you feel you best represent and why?
Hahaha, well I would like to think that I best represent Air New Zealand's values of 'Be Yourself' and 'Can do'. I am a professional and the standard I set myself is excellence in everything that I do. I am after all a Pilot and by not excluding excellence in everything that I do well... it wouldn't be great for the company or myself. Air Nelson is great in that the company relies on our professional judgment to ensure that the passengers needs are met and trust that we operate the aircraft in the safest and most economic way to achieve our passengers needs.
What's the best story you've been able to tell after a day at work?
The day after the February 2011 earthquake, my duty was changed to fly a Nelson-Christchurch return. It was very sobering flying to Christchurch that morning with its haze of smoke over the city, and with such few people on board. After turning the aircraft around and preparing to depart again it was humbling to see how exhausted the passengers were that were boarding the flight. After arriving back in Nelson, standing in the door saying farewell, it was easy to see how appreciative the passengers were of us being there to get them out of Christchurch. It was a moment in which I was really proud to be a member of Air Nelson and the Air New Zealand team.