Whitby teenager blasts off


A Whitby teenager is blast­ing off to space camp next month.

Jack Davies beat 200 ap­pli­cants to win a spot at the Euro­pean Space Camp in Nor­way.

It’s a dream come true for the 17-year-old, who said he was look­ing for­ward to meet­ing other peo­ple his age with sim­i­lar in­ter­ests.

‘‘I don’t know many other young peo­ple in this coun­try who are in­ter­ested in what I do.

‘‘It’s go­ing to be great to spend time with them,’’ he said.

The space camp is in An­doya, which is fa­mous for the aurora – or north­ern lights – and the area will be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing 24 hours of day­light when the stu­dents visit.

Stu­dents will spend a week in the life of a rocket sci­en­tist and tackle their own rocket launch as well as hear­ing some of Europe’s lead­ing sci­en­tists speak on var­i­ous things space re­lated.

Jean Davies said her son had al­ways loved rock­ets and that she was used to strange ap­pear­ances of rocket ma­te­rial in her home.

‘‘Re­cently we had rocket fins bak­ing in the oven to set the paint on them.

‘‘I’m also quite used to hav­ing a rocket parked in the garage,’’ she said.

Jack has launched more than 100 rock­ets and last year broke the record for the largest am­a­teur rocket launched in New Zealand.

He built the rocket and named it The Marsden, af­ter his school, Sa­muel Marsden Whitby.

Jack is in his last year at col­lege and said his worst sub­ject was English.

‘‘I tend to hurry through my classes to get back to rocket build­ing,’’ he said.

Jack said he would not de­scribe him­self as an over­achiever, but did ad­mit he might be a bit dif­fer­ent to other teenagers.

He spent the school hol­i­days learn­ing to fly a plane and has Col­lege in com­pleted a three-hour flight on his own.

He holds a re­stricted car li­cence, but thinks flying planes is much eas­ier than learn­ing to drive.

‘‘You don’t have to stay out of any­one’s way up in the sky.’’

Jack said he planned to study me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing next year at Can­ter­bury Univer­sity and hoped to even­tu­ally work for NASA.

‘‘My dream is to go into space one day.’’

Jack Davies, cen­tre, blue shirt, and helpers carry the record-break­ing rocket Marsden.

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