Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

Conference Awards

Greg Vujcich Memorial Award presented to:


Paul and Melissa Kearney.

Presenting the award in memory of her husband Greg, Joan Vujcich felt that this year’s recipient, Paul Kearney,  was quite possibly the most complete type of nominee for whom the Greg Vujcich Memorial Award  was designed to recognise.

Kearney received his ‘A’ category Instructor rating in 2006, and was awarded the Director of Civil Aviation Flight Instructor of the Year Award in 2008 in recognition of his high standards and efforts within general aviation (GA).

Since 2008, Kearney has not rested on his laurels and, with the introduction of a fleet of technically enhanced Diamond training aircraft at Massey, has been tireless in introducing the digital cockpit into the ab-initio training syllabus.

With the New Southern Skies changes to national airspace, he has wholeheartedly thrown himself into the project to ensure that GA aircraft will also be able to use the promulgated approaches and departures.

Kearney was the lead in creating training material and courses to ensure that all Massey University staff pilots and flight instructors were trained and met the required competencies to operate with required navigation performance (RNP) procedures.

NZALPA’s outgoing Medical and Welfare Director Captain Herwin Bongers, who co-presented the award, said general aviation training and, by extension, all aviation had benefitted greatly and would continue to benefit from Kearney’s decision to remain a flight instructor.   

“With his professional standards, enquiring mind and effective leadership, Paul Kearney is the perfect recipient of this award,” she said.   

Kearney’s win was also covered by Massey University and its stakeholder community.

Stewart Cameron Memorial Award Presented to:


Deborah Cameron and Graeme Milligan.

“To see someone suffer and do nothing isn’t natural.”

These were the words of Captain Herwin Bongers as The Stewart Cameron Memorial Award was presented for the first time at the 2017 Annual Conference to Captain Graeme Milligan.

In receiving the award, Captain Milligan was acknowledged for going that one step further after noticing the struggles of a colleague, and taking the extra step to get involved. It is a unique personality trait that he possesses.

“This is enshrined in the NZALPA rules, which define our Association,” Captain Bongers continued. “In the very first objective: ‘To develop the value and strength of mutual support and collective activity. To discourage the pursuit of individual gain at the cost of others’.”

Captain Milligan received three nominations from colleagues and Herwin explained that it would have been easy for the Medical and Welfare Committee to pick any one of the dozens of deserving volunteers. However the three members that had been assisted by Captain Milligan described him as “compassionate, empathic, genuine”, “authentic, unconditional, genuine friendship with humour”, and as someone who provided “support and guidance on countless occasions”.

“A more worthy nominee would be difficult to find,” Captain Bongers said. 

Jim Collins Memorial Award presented to:


Stuart Leighton and Allan Baker.

“The Jim Collins Memorial Award is awarded to a person(s)/organisation who has displayed an exceptional contribution to flight safety either over a sustained period of time or through an outstanding singular event,” NZALPA President Tim Robinson said.

At the NZALPA Conference, Robinson introduced Stuart Leighton, a career police officer to present the award named after Captain Jim Collins – the pilot in command for the Air New Zealand flight tragically lost on the slopes of Mt Erebus.

In 1979, Leighton was a member of the 12-man Police Recovery Team sent to Antarctica to recover the victims of the Erebus crash. In 2006, he was awarded the New Zealand Special Service Medal for that operation. As a result of his involvement in the Erebus disaster, he met and became friends with the Collins family. Leighton retired last year with the rank of Inspector in the role of Operations Manager for the Police Southern Communications Centre based in Christchurch.

Leighton spoke about the value of mental health support and the impressive peer assistance network set-up by aviation psychologist Allan Baker.

Baker’s nominations for the Jim Collins Memorial Award praised his steadfast commitment to the mental wellbeing of aviation professionals and his resolute application towards the establishment of a collegial assistance network for pilots and air traffic controllers.

“I believe he has demonstrated an exceptional contribution to aviation safety,” Captain Herwin Bongers, who co-founded the Peer Assistance Network (PAN) with Baker, said.

Early in 2014, Baker had approached Bongers, as the NZALPA Medical and Welfare Director at the time, with a proposal to establish a Peer Assistance Network for professional aviators in New Zealand.

“Allan was providing services to the industry as an aviation psychologist,” Bongers said. “In his dealings with persons in the aviation industry, he had encountered several situations where pilots were in a particularly bad state of mental health, who had been given poor assistance or advice. On occasions this lack of appropriate assistance led to their illness being prolonged, worsened or even eventually led to permanent exclusion from flying.

“He had seen the benefits of PAN as utilised with the Qantas pilot group in Australia and firmly believed that New Zealand aviators would gain from having a similar programme.”

Since NZALPA’s joint establishment and operation of PAN New Zealand, many aviation professionals have accessed assistance to gain guidance and help from trained peer support volunteers with referral to professional care where necessary.

Baker’s persistent belief in the formation of a structured PAN programme and his continued dedication for the betterment of psychological outcomes for aviation professionals demonstrates his exceptional contribution to aviation safety.

“With Allan’s expert oversight of the PAN programme New Zealand skies are a safer place,” Current NZALPA Medical and Welfare Director Andy Pender said.

Other awards:

Retirement glasses: Scroll of Merit recipients: Life Membership:
 David Earle  Dave Mainwaring  Garth McGearty
 Graeme Palliser  Gary Parata  
 Steve Cropp  Herwin Bongers  
Attached Files

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