Clothes gift warms chopper outfit

22:16, Jul 20 2014
New threads: The Palmerston North rescue helicopter crew model their new look. From left, pilot Lance Burns, pilot Chris Moody (wearing the new Swazi jacket) Swazi general manager Sharee Harper, pilot Graeme Speirs (wearing the Swazi uniform suit),and Swazi designer Jan Chammen.

Palmerston North's rescue helicopter crew have had a wardrobe makeover courtesy of Swazi.

The Levin-based apparel company has been working with the Philips Search and Rescue Trust to design and make weather-proof rescue suits.

The pilots and crew of the helicopter received the new, specially designed uniforms yesterday after a long period of development.

Base manager Chris Moody approached the company last year to develop a custom kit for the team's winch crew.

The rescue helicopter staff worked with Swazi's design team to create a uniform tailored to their needs.

The new crew suits are hi-viz, water- and wind-proof overalls with special modifications such as Kevlar panels and gear pouches.


The suits would cost almost $1000 each but Swazi donated them.

Swazi general manager Sharee Harper said the company was happy to assist the team and wanted to help make up for "inadequate gear".

"It was about time they got some purpose-built, cool, quality garments," she said.

"We did it because we have a tremendous amount of respect for the work carried out by the team."

Crewman David Burmeister said he couldn't be happier with the new uniforms.

"I've used them a few times now and they're very nice out in the weather. When it was raining and freezing cold they were worth their weight in gold.

"In the old suits you used to get wet and cold and now you just don't," he said.

Harper said the pilots felt a little left out with their crewmates getting new gear so Swazi also designed and gifted jackets especially for them.

This is the company's first venture into tailored gear for this line of work and Harper hopes it can help similar services upgrade their kit.

Moody hopes the crew's input can help the company service other rescue helicopters.

Swazi is still manufactured in Levin, where it was started by Davey and Marg Hughes 20 years ago.

Manawatu Standard