'Out of the blue' honour for former air force chief

NEW ROLE: CTC Aviation's new managing director, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell.
NEW ROLE: CTC Aviation's new managing director, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell.

There's nothing like getting an old-fashioned letter, especially if it's bringing news of a royal honour.

About three weeks ago the official word that Peter Stockwell was going to be made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit landed in his Hamilton letterbox.

But the ex-air force chief's wife got to the mail first.

The news came "out of the blue" for Stockwell, a retired air vice-marshal, but he was pleased and proud.

"Just reflecting on it, I see it as recognition for the work the air force has done in the time that I was the chief. Because the leaders of the organisations really get nothing done without what's going on below them."

He gave 41 years' service to the New Zealand military, starting in 1973, and worked his way up to chief of the air force in 2011.

"Any time you get to head an organisation like that it's a real privilege. You're conscious of what's gone before you and trying to maintain a standard set by others. But equally trying to advance the organisation," he said.

During his time at the top he supported the defence reform programme and oversaw the introduction of four new and upgraded aircraft types into service.

He retired in May this year.

Stockwell enjoyed the variety of roles available in the military.

He has fond memories of commanding the No 40 air transport squadron in the early 90s and gained "some very interesting insights" as the NZDF senior national representative at the United States Central Command in 2003.

Other roles included working in Canada as the New Zealand defence adviser, and as the commander of joint forces in New Zealand.

His citation says he "consistently demonstrated exceptional qualities of leadership, initiative, dedication, managerial skill and outstanding devotion to duty".

Stockwell's latest challenge is a role as the managing director of Hamilton's CTC Aviation, one he didn't hesitate over.

"Because I was ready to step into this new role straight away - like the next day after I finished - there wasn't a gap there."

Waikato Times