Date: 2 November 2018
As part of our ‘keeping it in the family’ month we caught up with our New Zealand Academy Director, Peter Stockwell and his son Mat, First Officer at Air New Zealand who had trained at the Academy a few years before Pete joined the team.
Tell us a bit about your careers to date?
Mat: I’ve been a commercial pilot for seven years now - I finished my training at CTC in 2008 and then spent three years instructing there. Since then I’ve flown for a range of airlines including Virgin Australia and for the last two years working for Air New Zealand as a first officer flying domestically on the A320 fleet.
Pete: I spent 41 years in the Royal New Zealand Air Force in a variety of positions including as a navigator on transport aircraft. When I left in 2014 I was Chief of the Air Force. After coming out of service I joined CTC as Academy Director in Hamilton.
Was there anything that planted the seed that lead you to following in your dad’s footsteps?
Mat: I don’t think that there is anything in particular that planted a seed as such, however when I was younger we lived just off the runway at an Air Force Base and I would draw pictures of the old man heading off on trips and have fond memories going to the flight line to meet him on his return.
Pete: We deliberately tried to avoid steering the kids in any particular career path as we wanted to let them make their own choices and pursue their own passions. However, I think he caught the aviation bug when he was 16/17 having attended a week long total-emersion summer flying camp here in New Zealand two years in a row, during which he first went solo.
Mat: Yeah for sure, that was my first taste of flying and I loved it. When I left high school, aviation and flying wasn’t really something I had considered. I actually went to University for a year after the first year of camp to figure out what I wanted to do, then after the second year I realised this is definitely what I want to do for a career.
Do you think without your family influence you would have become a pilot?
Mat: I’m unsure about that one – I never felt influenced by him in any way, but I guess subconsciously it will have had an effect. As any teenager, I had a lot of things I was thinking I wanted to do, but I’m certainly glad I was shown the initial point of direction of flying camp and have taken the path I did. I feel very fortunate to be in the position I’m in and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else!
Pete: I’m obviously pleased and really proud about the career path he has chosen, but equally if he had chosen something else I would feel the same, as any parent, we want them to be happy in their choices.
Mat: I was pumping gas at a local fuel station and throwing bags into aircraft for a while, until I decided to fulfil a full time course and that’s when I found CTC. It was just starting out in New Zealand around that time (2007) so dad didn’t even know it existed. I guess for us, the influence may have been the other way round with me influencing my Dad’s career choice.
Pete: Because Mat trained at the New Zealand Academy we obviously got to know the company and what is was about. When I was due to finish my job at the Air Force I heard the CTC job was available. I’d always thought that training future pilots was something I’d want to do, I’m really keen in seeing young people taking their career step – especially seeing our son do it really enforced how much I love seeing young folk embark on a career aviation. It’s worked out really well and I guess you could say that Mat’s influenced my recent career as much as the other way around!
As a family there are obviously many aviation moments which you are able to share together. Do any stand out for you?
Pete: When Mat first achieved his captaincy with a subsidiary of Air New Zealand flying Beech aircraft, I went out to Wellington and surprised him by booking a seat on the flight and turning up as one of the passengers!
Mat: That was a really great surprise! Mum and Dad came for a coffee and to see me off, then I wandered down to the departure area and there dad was sitting ready to go. It made me feel a little extra nervous having the old man watch me, but I was pretty chuffed to be honest and just really excited. I felt incredibly lucky at that point, I always wanted him to be my first passenger.
Pete: It’s funny because my wife hates flying, my daughter spent a year and a half as cabin crew with Emirates so the three of us got the aviation bug but my wife missed out on that one.
Mat: It is my life long goal to get my mum in the cockpit of a big commercial plane, knowing she doesn’t like flying it will be pretty tricky but I’m determined. Knowing I’ve got another 30 years or so of flying I’m pretty sure I can get her up there one day.