Officer cadet says training not like movies

21:51, Jun 08 2014
Corban Phillips
HIGH FLYER: Officer cadet Corban Phillips from Blenheim will complete his initial officer training at Base Woodbourne this month before starting pilot training.

Air force training is not like the movie Top Gun, Blenheim officer cadet Corban Phillips laughs.

Days are spent with rigorous training in leadership, foot and sword drills, weapons training and defence and strategic studies. His nights are spent ironing his uniform.

The 20-year-old beat off hundreds of applicants across New Zealand and was one of only six cadets accepted for initial officer training at Base Woodbourne.

Phillips completes the course in three weeks then moves to Base Ohakea where he will undertake pilot training for two years before specialising in helicopter or fixed-wing flying.

A sense of adventure and undertaking a high level of training pushed Phillips towards a high-flying career.

"Flying is so much better than anything else," he said. "It is unlike any other job. You don't know what you are going to do the next day. Every day is an adventure. You could be flying over the slums of India and it would still look beautiful. That first initial rush of taking off right up until the view from the plane is amazing."


He was one of the participants in joint officer training at Base Woodbourne. The programme was the first of its kind, integrating instructors and trainee officers from the army, navy and air force in one seven-week course.

Phillips experienced a flight aboard a Hercules transport plane, was set adrift in a liferaft and had to endure a bush survival situation. He also learned to fire a pistol for the first time.

Training had been gruelling but didn't match Hollywood-inspired stereotypes, Phillips said.

"It is not what you see in the movies. You get woken in the early hours and spend nights ironing clothing. You get told off for the smallest piece of lint on clothing. They don't scream at you, they don't swear. You are still treated with respect. They make it clear you work to the best of your ability. It is not like Top Gun unfortunately."

The Marlborough Express