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Air force appoints new chief

Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014
 Mike Yardley
LEADERSHIP CHANGE: Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell, left, hands over the role of Chief of Air Force to Air Vice-Marshal Mike Yardley in Whenuapai.

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A flypast of Hercules and Orion aircraft hailed a change of leadership in a ceremony at Whenuapai air base.

Air Vice Marshal Mike Yardley took command as chief of the air force and says he's looking forward to the challenges ahead.

He thanked former chief Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell for his outstanding leadership during the past three years.

Stockwell says Yardley was an experienced commander and strategic leader.

"The decision to move on after 41 years of service was a difficult one for me, but I felt it was time for a new challenge," Stockwell says. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the air force, and I will always treasure my term as the chief of the air force."

Yardley enlisted in the air force as a general duties navigator in 1981. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Decoration in the Queen's Birthday honours list in 2007.

The ceremony also included a guard of honour, parading of the Queen's colour and the standards of 3, 5, 40 and 42 squadrons.

The Kiwi Rescue 795, the P-3K2 Orion aircraft and crew, returned home to Whenuapai after searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

The search now enters a new underwater phase with the team spending 53 days in the operation off Malaysia and Australia's West Coast. Kiwi Rescue 795 clocked up a total of 276 flying hours while searching more than 1.5 million square kilometres, an area roughly eight times the size of New Zealand.

The team also helped a sinking yacht off the coast of Perth.

Pilot Dave Smith says they responded to a distress beacon signal. "Using the signal . . . and our radar we were able to locate the yacht Elkan with one person on board. The yacht was sinking with the water line level to the top of the hull." The person was winched to safety by a rescue helicopter.

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- Norwest News

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