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It’s not often I write the First Word editorial column for the Air Force News. I’m a firm believer that editors should be seen but their opinions rarely heard.

But I’d like to comment on a subject close to my heart, the Air Force News – a publication I have edited for a little over four years.

Your willingness to write stories or be interviewed reflects a strong sense of ownership. And it’s your ownership that is the main reason for the magazine’s success. It’s your publication, telling your stories - real stories about real people doing real things, as I tell my friends and journalist colleagues.

And how do I know we are successful? There’s a simple test. After every issue I regularly receive emails and letters from people, praising the publication, and asking to be put onto our mailing list. The number of external ‘subscriptions’ to Air Force News have more than doubled in the last four years. The requests come from your families, friends, former RNZAF members and interested members of the public. We have subscribers all around the world - in the UK, Australia, United States, South Africa, Asia, South America.

And our own units are keen to ensure they get their rightful number and quickly let me know if their copies haven’t arrived. How else would they find out who is doing what, when and where?

Occasionally I’m asked, generally by people outside the Air Force, where I get all the stories from. They originate from a wide range of sources. It’s far from top driven or the result of me sitting at my desk in Wellington dreaming up angles. Some are submitted stories, some

are the result of suggestions from my PR colleagues (Dani Coe and SQNLDR Glenn Davis) and others result from me bullying some poor sod. The common element is that they all come from you – one way or another. And then there are photographers whose lively photos are a trademark of every issue and the eye-catching pages created by our in-house designers.

The magazine isn’t always the first with the news, but that’s the nature of a monthly magazine. It’s very rare for the Air Force News to ‘break’ a story. But I can and do try to give as much background and detail as possible. So, for example, when the government announces a new upgrade or project we try, as much as I’m able, to give you a bit more information and to fill in the blanks. Likewise your reports from overseas detachments and missions try to give a personal perspective on what’s happening, and just what it’s like to be working in a foreign land.

I’ve met many of you and, although I don’t wear a blue uniform, I can honestly say I’m more than happy to consider myself part of the wider Air Force fraternity. In my view the Air Force is full of hard-working, dedicated and committed professionals. Telling your stories is never too difficult. Most importantly I enjoy my job so I expect to be around for some time. Keep those stories coming in!

This issue contains the usual selection and variety of stories – a feature on No.6 Squadron, No.5 Squadron’s historic flight to Antarctica, Fire Fighter training, New Year Honours, the ATC’s Flying School, sport and a host of briefs. Enjoy!



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