Young avi­a­tor wins club cham­pi­onship

Hamilton Metro News - - FRONT PAGE -

Com­pet­ing in nine sep­a­rate fly­ing con­tests over two days, Jes­sica We­ston is Waikato Avi­a­tion’s youngest fe­male, and the first woman in more than 20 years, to be­come the Avi­a­tors’ Club’s se­nior cham­pion.

At 21, and with not quite two years’ flight train­ing, We­ston won the Se­nior Low Fly­ing, Se­nior Nav­i­ga­tion, Se­nior In­stru­ment Fly­ing and Ladies Cir­cuits, beat­ing a num­ber of ex­pe­ri­enced recre­ational pi­lots and fel­low stu­dents, to be awarded the J A Harper tro­phy.

De­signed to test pi­lots’ abil­i­ties and repli­cate ac­tual fly­ing sit­u­a­tions, the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion as­sesses a range of fly­ing skills. Cir­cuits re­quire pre­cise land­ing skills as pi­lots at­tempt to land on a tar­get within a grid. In the se­nior in­stru­ment fly­ing con­test the pi­lot must rely solely on their in­stru­ments. The nav­i­ga­tional com­pe­ti­tion re­quires con­tes­tants to plan, map and fly a pre­de­ter­mined flight with­out the use of GPS apps, and in the dif­fi­cult low fly­ing con­test the pi­lot must com­plete a de­fined pat­tern, in­clud­ing steep turns, at the same level and con­stant speed.

Fly­ing is in We­ston’s blood. Her grand­fa­ther’s brother also trained at Waikato Avi­a­tion. De­spite We­ston dream­ing of fly­ing since child­hood she joined an ac­count­ing firm af­ter leav­ing Te Awa­mutu Col­lege, but late in 2015 her grand­fa­ther came across a Waikato Avi­a­tion brochure and gave it to We­ston. She took a trial flight and by Jan­uary 2016 she was en­rolled in the full time train­ing course.

“I love the chal­lenge of fly­ing,” said We­ston. “Noth­ing com­pares to the feel­ing of be­ing in the air, and of course you get a dif­fer­ent, and an amaz­ing, view of the world.”

We­ston re­cently gained her Com­mer­cial Pi­lot Li­cence and is cur­rently do­ing night fly­ing and multi en­gine train­ing with Waikato Avi­a­tion.

When We­ston completes her train­ing she wants to work as a flight in­struc­tor, how­ever she hasn’t ruled out a job as a com­mer­cial air­line pi­lot with Air New Zealand.

In mid Novem­ber We­ston will rep­re­sent the Waikato at the re­gional fly­ing com­pe­ti­tions in Tau­ranga.

Photo / Gor­don Mal­colm

Pi­lot Jes­sica We­ston with the cache of tro­phies she won to be­come Se­nior Club Cham­pion.

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