The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is set to deploy to Wanaka to conduct its annual C-130 Hercules training activity, Exercise Skytrain.

The exercise will start on 15 March and run until 26 March.

According to a statement released by the RNZAF, Exercise Skytrain helps No. 40 Squadron ‘consolidate skills’ trained at Base Auckland.

It provides crews with several kinds of ‘flying training’, including ‘over unfamiliar and challenging terrain’ and coordinating pallet drops into drop zones.

The exercise also trains the crew on landing the aircraft on runways that are different from those in Auckland.

Detachment commander squadron leader Rob Attrill said that one C-130 Hercules and crew from Auckland, Ohakea and Woodbourne will participate in the exercise.

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Attrill said: “An important part of our training is being able to operate effectively and successfully away from our home base so every year we run a Skytrain exercise in New Zealand to further hone these skills.

“Skytrain exercises our support elements in supporting airborne operations and further prepares us for overseas-based exercises with our partners, and ultimately operations in support of New Zealand interests.

“We have used these skills in real-life scenarios, for instance in December 2019 we deployed on US Air Force led Operation Christmas Drop out of Guam where we delivered pallet loads of goods via C-130 airdrops to people living on remote islands and atolls in the Pacific.”

The C-130 Hercules will also perform landings at Timaru and Oamaru airfields.