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‘Father of the Air Force’ Passes Away

Media Release

28 July 2014

‘Father of the Air Force’ Passes Away

Air Marshal Sir Richard Bolt as Chief of Defence Staff

Air Marshal (Rtd) Sir Richard Bolt KBE CB DFC AFC, the man regarded by generations of Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) personnel as the “Father of the Air Force”, passed away in Lower Hutt yesterday, aged 91.

Sir Richard joined the RNZAF in 1942 and trained as a pilot before serving with RAF Bomber Command during World War 2 in the Pathfinder Force, flying Lancaster bombers. He took command of the RNZAF as Chief of Air Staff in 1974, and became Chief of Defence Staff in 1976 before retiring in 1980.

Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley said today that AM Bolt’s decades of service at every level had established him as a cornerstone of the modern Air Force.

“The status of ‘Father of the Air Force’ was richly deserved. He had an outstanding career, culminating in the highest possible appointments,” AVM Yardley said.

“He was an airman, and a leader of airmen and women, who has been a role model to us all. We are all deeply saddened at his passing, and we offer our most sincere condolences to his family,” he said.

Sir Richard stayed in close contact with the RNZAF after retirement and was also actively engaged with the Bomber Command Association, Brevet Club and Royal New Zealand Air Force Association.

Sir Richard’s funeral will take place with full military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington at 2.30pm on Friday 1 August.


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