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Pike River Mission an Honour for Air Force Co-Pilot

Flight Lieutenant George McInnes with Bernie and Kath Monk, the parents of his best friend Michael, one of 29 miners who died in the Pike River mining tragedy.

Media Release

21 October 2013

Pike River Mission an Honour for Air Force Co-Pilot

As Flight Lieutenant George McInnes flew over the Pike River mine site yesterday his thoughts were with his best friend Michael Monk, one of 29 miners whose bodies remain in the mine below.

“I have to admit I was thinking of Michael and his family, but I had to push those thoughts to the back of my mind because we had an important job to do.” FLTLT McInnes said.

The pair forged a strong friendship at boarding school in Christchurch where they attended St Bede’s College and on leaving school they completed a gap year in Ireland together coaching rugby.

“When we came back to New Zealand Michael took up a builder’s apprenticeship on the coast and soon after I joined the Air Force,” FLTLT McInnes said.

When FLTLT McInnes heard that the NZ Defence Force was assisting with the mine re-entry phase he was among the first personnel requesting to go.

“It’s pretty special for me to be able to help out and it was really good to catch up with Michael’s parents Bernie and Kath Monk.”

FLTLT McInnes is one of three NH90 co-pilots assisting with the removal of material from around the top of the main ventilation shaft.

“We are certainly learning a lot while we are down here, it’s challenging work with underslung loads but the NH90s are proving to be very effective with the task.”


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