The Missing Wingman Trust (RNZAF) is a registered charity in New Zealand which supports the Royal New Zealand Air Force family. It is the only charity in New Zealand that supports our air force families when someone is killed, wounded, injured or becomes ill, whether in New Zealand or overseas.
The charity was formed in 2010 to support our Air Force family and remember those we lost. Importantly, it doesn’t just help when a serviceperson is in need, but when any member of that person's family is killed, injured, wounded or ill, because sometimes it’s the death of a partner or illness of a child that can put our families under the most pressure. Since it's inception we’ve spent thousands supporting our Air Force families: assisting with medical expenses, repairing homes, providing scholarships, and providing support in times of grief. You can read more here.
The trust board is comprised of military and civilian personnel, including Judy Bailey, whose father was Chief of the Air Force in the 1960's. The Trust was chaired by former Defence Chief, Air Marshal Sir Bruce Ferguson until 2021. Currently the Trust Chair is WGCDR Ron Thacker. You can read more about our trustees below.
Ron Thacker (Chair)
Auckland - W/O Darren "Digby" Bentley
Auckland - FLTLT Jack McKinney-Ryder
Hutt Valley - W/O Jake McPhee
Ohakea - SQNLDR Heather Peart
Ohakea - FLTLT Frenchy Ifrah
Wellington - Ms Linley Williams
Woodbourne - W/O Craig Harnett
JFNZ/ Trentham - W/O Mark Harpur
Ron Thacker - MNZM
Ron joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in January 1979 and, on completion of flying training, trained as a helicopter pilot. Over the years since then, he has completed a range of flying duties on both helicopters and fixed wing training aircraft, and has held a range of instructional, staff and command posts. He has flown Iroquois helicopters on operations in the Sinai (Egypt) and the Solomon Islands. Additionally, he spent two and a half years flying the PC9 as an exchange flying instructor with the RAAF.
Having been directly and indirectly involved in the aftermath of a number of critical incidents involving members of the wider RNZAF family, Ron has been a passionate supporter of the Missing Wingman Trust since its inception. He was the Ohakea representative for the Trust from 2012 - 2020 and joined the board of trustees in 2020. He was elected Chair at the 2021 AGM.
Tim is the founder of The Missing Wingman Trust, the first charity of its kind in New Zealand. The Missing Wingman Trust supports Air Force families when someone is killed, wounded, injured or becomes ill, whether in New Zealand or overseas.
Tim joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a pilot in 2001. He flew Iroquois and NH90 helicopters, including operational service flying in the Solomon Islands and East Timor. Tim also completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan and numerous rescue missions in New Zealand and humanitarian missions in Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
He has a Master’s degree in International Defence and Security, a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematical Physics and a Diploma in Business. Tim has held a variety of leadership roles within the RNZAF, including Second-in-Command of pilot training and Command of the NH90 helicopters both in New Zealand and overseas. In 2014 Tim was seconded to HRH the Duke of Cambridge as an Equerry – an officer of the British royal household who assists members of the royal family.
Tim Costley is currently the Wing Commander overseeing operational airworthiness at Ohakea.
Judy Bailey is a writer and broadcaster living in Auckland. She is the daughter of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Ian Morrison.
A broadcaster for more than four decades, her on screen partnerships with John Hawkesby and Richard Long are among the longest in national television history. She fronted primetime news for twenty six years. Since leaving TVNZ she has fronted all but one of Maori Television’s ANZAC Day programmes as well as numerous other shows.
Bailey has recently spent much of her time involved in travel writing and broadcasting.
Judy has long been an advocate for children.
She is the deputy chair, a trustee and presenter for the Brainwave Trust, an organization that brings the latest research in neuroscience to those who work with children and young families.
She has an enduring partnership with World Vision, is patron of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, The Friends of Women’s Refuge and of the National Collective of Women’s Refuges.
She is also the patron of North Shore Hospice, and of Seasons, a grief programme for children.
In 2010 she was created an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to broadcasting and the community.
She is married to the managing director of South Pacific Pictures, Chris Bailey. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Steve Gregory was a founding member of the Missing Wingman Trust in 2010. His involvement followed the death of his son, Flying Officer Dan Gregory in the ANZAC Day tragedy of that same year that killed three aircrew and seriously injured a fourth when their Iroquois helicopter crashed into the hills near Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington while on their way to take part in a ceremonial fly past in the Capitol.
Although he has not served himself, Steve comes from an RNZAF family, his father Keith from Dunedin flew in Bomber Command during World War II and took part in a series of raids against the German battleship Tirpitz in 1942. He was shot down on one of these raids over Norway and survived to spend the rest of the war in various prisoner of war camps. Steve's Uncle Harvey also flew in Coastal Command during that same conflict, based on the South Coast of the UK.
Steve has been active in the insurance industry and is also a keen sportsman. He brings a personal, non-service perspective to the Trust and feels a huge amount of pride in the good work it has done for the families of affected air force families over the past 10 years.
Geoff "Polly" Polglase, joined the RNZAF in 1988 and trained and served as a Safety and Surface worker at Ohakea, Auckland and 3 yrs in Nowra, Australia with 2 Squadron.
On return to New Zealand he re-mustered to Helicopter Crewman and was lucky to see Antarctica, Solomon Islands and East Timor for three tours in the venerable Iroquois aircraft. Further postings to Operations roles, 5 Squadron Operations Officer and Headquarters support roles in Wellington rounded out a 25 yr career.
Post service Polly has grown his passion for veterans with roles in the RSA at Hobsonville culminating in becoming President for 2 years in 2017. His career now is bittersweet, selling new properties at his beloved retired Hobsonville Base (Hobsonville Point) where he lives and works with his two daughters.
Wing Commander Susie Barns is the current Director of Airforce Safety and Health. As a senior leader within the RNZAF, she is passionate about the people within the organisation and supports a number of initiatives focused on organisational diversity, inclusion, authenticity and development for the future.
Originating from Tokomaru Bay, Susie is proudly Ngāti Porou and has recently started learning Te Reo Māori. Outside of work, Susie loves completing physical challenges. She ran the New York marathon in 2019 and completed the 100km OXFAM Trail Walk in March 2021.
Susie is also a proud mum to two busy teenagers (Bryahna and Trae) and their spoilt dog Zeus.
Words from HRH The Duke of Cambridge