Stu retired from the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2012, where he initially trained as a Physical Training Instructor, serving his country in two operational deployments to East Timor.
During his second tour he was awarded the Commander Sector West Commendation for the exemplary manner in which he performed his duties.
To increase his skill set he completed the RNZAF Aircrew Survival Course the Australian Air Force Combat Survival Course and was invited to attend the USAF S-V80-A Combat Survival Training Course, becoming the only RNZAF person to achieve this distinction and qualification. He has extensive theorectical and practical experience of jungle, sea, sea coast, bush, arid/desert, alpine and Antarctic environments.
Stu became the Senior Instructor of the RNZAF Survival Training Centre having the responsibility for developing instructional material and training staff in survival training for New Zealand Defence Force Flight crew personnel.
The training programmes he developed encompassed instruction, organising and managing numerous survival training courses which included; bush, jungle, arid, sea coast, sea, cold weather survival skills above the tree line, Antarctica as well as SERE training (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape). He also participated in and instructed in Code of Conduct after Capture training.
He was instrumental in setting up a Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape training programme to equip RNZAF personnel for
overseas deployment in war zones.
As a respected expert in his field, Stu has been invited to attend numerous international conferences and development forums.
As a subject matter expert in the field of survival he has offered his professional guidance and recommendations for the new survival equipment for purchase for the RNZAF.
Having proven his value as a superior Survival Instructor, Stu was awarded the RNZAF Commander of Training Group Commendation in 2008. In February 2012 Stu Gilbert finished his career with the RNZAF and has gone on to establish SOS Survival Training Limited.