Young peo­ple on a mis­sion

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

While many teenagers sleep or play video games all week­end, 40 of their peers are fly­ing planes, fir­ing weapons and hon­ing their sur­vival skills in the bush.

Ly­ing in bed all morn­ing is un­think­able to cadets in the Porirua Air Train­ing Corps, who rel­ish op­por­tu­ni­ties such as spend­ing a week in Waiouru bar­racks, ris­ing at 5am and eat­ing meals along­side real soldiers.

Bishop Viard Col­lege stu­dent Alex Ogilvie, 15, re­cently spent his school hol­i­days do­ing just that, as part of a lead­er­ship train­ing course that re­sulted in his pro­mo­tion to cor­po­ral.

Alex wants to be­come an Air Force medic and said be­ing a cadet had given him the skills and con­fi­dence to pur­sue his goals.

‘‘ It re­ally teaches you to be al­ways pre­pared and have ev­ery­thing to the stan­dard it should be, and how to lead peo­ple,’’ he said.

‘‘ You can just feel your­self im­prove ev­ery year. You get more or­gan­ised, more self-dis­ci­plined. You can get up at five in the morn­ing and do all th­ese jobs.’’

The cadets meet ev­ery Mon­day at 6.30pm for drill prac­tice at Ngati­toa Do­main.

Drill was an es­sen­tial part of dis­ci­pline and lead­er­ship be­cause ex­pe­ri­enced cadets taught new­bies the ropes, said of­fi­cer Chris As­bery, one of the squadron’s lead­ers. ‘‘The whole ethos is lead­er­ship,’’ he said.

Most teens were at­tracted to air cadets for the fly­ing lessons, which were held at Para­pa­raumu air­port ev­ery six weeks, Mr As­bery said.

‘‘That’s our big draw. Sea cadets have boats, army cadets have mud, be­cause they don’t have tanks, and we have planes.’’

Ev­ery sec­ond week­end cadets can get stuck into ac­tiv­i­ties or at­tend cour­ses as di­verse as plane nav­i­ga­tion, bushcraft and first aid.

‘‘We’ll be fly­ing, camp­ing, shoot­ing. It’s pretty full on,’’ Mr As­bery said.

The con­fi­dence cadets gave to some teenagers was re­mark­able, he said.

Tawa Col­lege stu­dent Grace O’Neill, 13, had come out of her shell in the months since join­ing, a change her teach­ers and fam­ily had com­mented on, Mr As­bery said.

‘‘From a girl who wouldn’t say boo to a goose to some­one who can in­ter­act – it was a pretty steep learn­ing curve.’’

An­other new re­cruit, 13-yearold Tawa Col­lege stu­dent Zac Rose, said learn­ing to fly with the cadets had changed his whole life plan. ‘‘It was amaz­ing. It’s awe­some. I took off want­ing to be a com­puter pro­gram­mer, I landed want­ing to be an Air Force pilot.’’

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Gun un-shy: Grace O’Neill, 13, over­came her shy­ness af­ter join­ing the Porirua air cadets and has thrown her­self into ac­tiv­i­ties such as ri­fle train­ing.

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