PR2449 AIR FRORCE MUSEUM
LT CDR Keith Gilchrist is a former Royal Navy ‘Tacco’ from Berwick-on-Tweed with 12 years experience flying Seakings and aboard Nimrods (the RAF’s equivalent of our Orion). Married to Wairarapa born Anne they have two children, James (12 years) and Alicia (9 years). He was brought out to New Zealand in 1998 when the Seasprites first arrived and, on secondment to the Ministry of Defence, was involved in testing and evaluating the Seasprite. He also spent a total of 12 months in the US working for the Seasprite’s builder, Kaman. His antipodean career highlights include visiting the sub-Antarctic islands on a DOC resupply mission and viewing some of the unique wildlife. He expects to remain as the Squadron’s CO for another 12 months before being posted to Naval Staff in Wellington.
LT CDR Gilchrist’s advice to young people aspiring to join the Squadron is that there are basically two paths in. ‘If you’re keen on maintenance you’ll need to go to the Air Force recruiters and work your way through that Service before transferring to No.6 Squadron but prospective Seasprite pilots and Taccos can go directly to a Navy recruitment office and tell them you’d like to fly off the back of a frigate. They’ll likely snap you up.’
WORTH CELEBRATING 4000 HOURS FLTLT KAREN JOSEPHS Congratulations to LTCDR Jason Haggitt who achieved 4000 flying hours in November 2005. The No. 6 Squadron Pilot Training Officer celebrated this impressive achievement on Wednesday 16 November and was met by his colleagues as he landed at Whenuapai after a routine sortie.
LTCDR Haggitt joined the RNZAF in 1988, as a pilot and spent most of his career flying with No. 3 Squadron. During this time he completed an exchange with the Royal Navy at No. 845 Squadron, and a deployment to East Timor.
In 2002 he completed a Service change to the RNZN and continued to fly for No. 3 SQN’s Naval Support Flight, which has since reformed as No. 6 SQN.
LTCDR Haggitt gained the 4000 hours on a wide range of aircraft including the Air Tourer, Air Trainer, Strikemaster, Sioux, Iroquois and Sea King Mk 4.
He currently flies the SH-2G (NZ) Super Seasprite, on which he has accumulated 800 hours to date.
LT CDR Haggit signs the log book confirming his 4000 hours.
No. 6 Squadron Catalina with front turret and props removed, US OS2U Kingfisher at rear.
Occasional navigation exercise flights to Fiji also gave the crews good experience, as did the use of the RNZAF Lauthala Bay ‘Farnborough Trainer’ for anti-submarine warfare.
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING For more indepth reading on No.6 Squadron war years see:
Continuation training included radar homings, instrument let-downs, simulated mine laying and patterns off sono-buoys.
No.6 Flying Boat Squadron – A Brief History By FGOFF GA Wrathall, 1966. Published by RNZAF.
In January 1956 the Squadron reduced to three crews in 1957 to two crews. An impressive aspect of voluntary service was the support the men received from the wives and families. The men’s morale was good; they
Or about New Zealand Flying Boats in general: The Golden Age Of New Zealand Flying Boats by Paul Harrison, Brian Lockstone and Andy Anderson, 1997, ISBN: 1 86941 299 0
From 1953 to 1955 regular crews were flying Sunderlands (Mk 5) to Lauthala Bay to replace No.5 Squadron’s Catalinas, to Hobsonville for No.6 Squadron and MOCU. TAF crews converted to Sunderlands in late 1954.
Apart from a lack of night flying TAF flying activities were similar to those of the regulars, including navigation exercises, maritime patrols, instru- ment rating tests, monthly continuation training, bombing and gunnery, SAR and participation in various exercises such as fighter affiliation (e.g. with No1 TAF Squadron and the Active Reserve Radar Unit at Piha), navy co-operation as in Auckex. Visiting and RNZN vessels were also exercised with including HMAS Melbourne (aircraft carrier), HMS Through (Sub) HMS Telemachus (Sub) and various destroyers and frigates.
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met their commitments enthusiastically and were good ambassadors for the Air Force.
After disbandment in July 1957 Squadron members received a letter of thanks from the Air Department and an invitation to serve in the Active Reserve. Many accepted.
Some continued to serve even when the Sunderlands were replaced by Orions but their duties changed to ground positions in Maritime Operations. Their experience was often useful during large exercises such as Tasmanex. There was talk of reviving the TAF Squadrons but this never occurred.