Former Feilding personal trainer’s new career takes off

Supplied Corporal Mark Howard, 34, graduated as a Helicopter Loadmaster at the Ōhakea air base…

Former Feilding personal trainer’s new career takes off

Corporal Mark Howard, 34, graduated as a Helicopter Loadmaster at the Ōhakea air base after leaving behind his old career as a personal trainer.

Supplied

Corporal Mark Howard, 34, graduated as a Helicopter Loadmaster at the Ōhakea air base after leaving behind his old career as a personal trainer.

A former Feilding personal trainer has traded in the fitness industry for a higher-flying career with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Corporal Mark Howard, 34, graduated as a helicopter loadmaster at the Ōhakea air force base on Friday.

As a newly minted loadmaster, Howard will be responsible for passengers, underslung loads and rescue hoists on aid and search and rescue missions.

“I’m looking forward to [it]… There is a lot of variation day to day. It is also a job that is at the front lines of the Defence Force, so you can see the difference being made.”

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Howard has been posted to the Ōhakea-based No 3 Squadron, which uses A109 light utility helicopters or the heftier NH90 helicopters.

Howard said he was looking forward to officially joining the squadron, which often deals with the Air Force’s most extreme scenarios – delivering troops and equipment into combat or difficult search and rescue operations.

The squadron’s NH90 helicopters and crew helped fight the massive bush fires that ripped through Australia last summer and were also deployed during the White Island eruption.

The Feilding High School old boy started his working life as a personal trainer and fitness manager.

He said he joined the Air Force because he wanted a career with good prospects, where he’d be constantly challenged.

One of the highlights of the 11-month loadmaster course, for Howard, was mountain flying training in the South Island.

It introduced him to a new area of the country from a different perspective.

But when he’s not in the back of a helicopter Howard turns his expertise from civilian life to the sports field. He plays for the Air Force and Ōhakea rugby, rugby league and squash teams.

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