Ex-Boys' High pupil flying high

02:37, Jul 10 2014
Liam Riley
Victorious: Leading aircraftman Liam Riley, from Woodville, inspects an aircraft canopy while competing in the aircraft maintenance section of the 2014 National WorldSkills Competition.

Former Palmerston North Boys' High pupil turned aircraft technician Liam Riley has his sights fixed on Brazil after winning a national competition in aircraft maintenance.

Riley, 22, formerly of Woodville, and now based at 40 squadron at the Whenuapai Air Force Base, won the aircraft maintenance section of the 2014 National WorldSkills competition held in Hamilton over the weekend.

The win means he is eligible to take his skills to the world stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil, next year, if he passes a selection test.

Acing the two-day test, which involved four elements, including changing components, a structural phase and inspecting and fixing faults on a helicopter, Riley finished with a score of 93.6 out of 100.

Riley said yesterday that the hardest part of the competition was the tight time restrictions.

Having joined the air force in 2010, Riley had just finished his training in November last year and, given the age restrictions on the competition, this year was his last chance to compete.


But it's not the first time his talents have been recognised. Riley has already been through a number of courses, including the senior trade training, where he was awarded top mechanic.

Joining the air force was something Riley said he had been interested in since secondary school.

His day-to-day work involves operational and intermediate levels of servicing for the C-130 Hercules and the Boeing 757 aircraft.

"I enjoy the variety of work that my job entails, it is never really the same day-to-day.

"One day I could be assisting with the dispatching and after flight of an aircraft and the next, involved in a major component replacement in the hangar," he said.

To join the New Zealand "Tool Blacks" in Brazil next year, he would have to pass a panel interview.

The international event is expected to bring together people from more than 60 countries, involving more than 1000 competitors as well as educational, government and industry leaders.

The tests are twice as long in the international competition, involving four days and seven or eight different skills tests.

Manawatu Standard