WONZ 209 – Buck Harrison – Helicopter Crewman

Main Speaker: Warrant Officer Keith “Buck” Harrison, RNZAF Retired

Other Speaker: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 1st of September 2019

Released: 31st of October 2019

Duration: 51 minutes 51 seconds

This is the third episode from the recent Wings Over New Zealand Forum Meet at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Wigram, Christchurch. We hear a talk given by Buck Harrison who joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1973 as an aircraft technician, and he worked on Dakotas, Strikemasters, Skyhawks, Iroquois and Airtrainers. He then decided to retrain as a Helicopter Crewman, which was an elite aircrew role.

Buck talks about the intensive selection and training process that he went through to become a ‘Crewman’. He then details some of the more interesting missions he was involved with, from search and rescue to firefighting to Navy and Army liaison, and from police work to VIP flying in Antarctica to working with the Department of Conservation (D.O.C.).

Quick Links:

•  The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Website

•  The RNZAF’s Facebook Page

•  The Air Force Museum of New Zealand’s Website

•  The Air Force Museum of New Zealand’s Facebook Page

•  The Air Force Museum of New Zealand’s Twitter Feed

•  The Air Force Museum of New Zealand’s Thread on the WONZ Forum

Buck used a Powerpoint Presentation with his talk and he has kindly provided the photos for listeners to see here to help understand what he’s talking about.

Warrant Officer Buck Harrison, Helicopter Crewman

Buck working on a Strikemaster.

Buck, left, working on a Skyhawk.

Winching practice on the back of an Interisland ferry.

The Iroquois winch.

Low, hard and fast!

Stretchers rigged three high in the helicopter, and troops unload or load equipment during manoeuvres with the New Zealand Army.

A remote landing area during a search and rescue effort.

Working with the Department of Conservation (D.O.C.).

Carrying timber for a D.O.C. hut.

Transporting a section of a prefabricated D.O.C. hut

Working with the monsoon bucket and firefighters.

A calf is winched out of the snow where it was trapped in the Big Snow of 1992

Hay bails stacked into an Iroquois during the effort to feed and relieve stranded livestock after the Big Snow in 1992.

Relief effort after a cyclone in Fiji

Helping locals with building materials to rebuild in Fiji after a cyclone, Buck helps to load the timber while pilot Brett King is second from left

The cannabis wreath made by one of the policemen during the lunch break on a cannabis recovery mission


Buck Harrison

Sir Ed Hillary and crew in Antarctica


In 1992 the RNZAF operated two Iroquois in Antarctica

B..B…B…B… Bluebird’s the word

Buck of the Antarctic

The official party in Antarctica with Sir Edmund Hillary in the back row, centre, Prime Minister Jim Bolger, and Buck is on the right hand end in the black headband

The twelve-ship No. 3 Squadron RNZAF Iroquois Formation to mark 25 Years of service for the Bell UH-1 Iroquois with the RNZAF

NB: The music at the end of this episode is Wild Flower by Joakim Karud

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