Rotary chips in
Matamata teenager Thomas Schweizer had never been in a plane before the start of this year but now he is at the controls learning to fly.
The 17 year old has been attending the 46th annual Walsh Memorial Flying School at Waharoa for the past two weeks and is understandably thrilled to fulfil a long- held dream of taking to the skies.
‘‘I’d never been in a plane before coming here and I had no idea what to expect,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘ I’ve found that I really enjoy flying and I can definitely see myself doing it as a job.’’
Thomas, a member of Matamata Scouts, is the only local participant in the first-year intake at this year’s Walsh Memorial Flying School and he received a significant sponsorship from the Rotary Club of Matamata to attend the two- week camp. ‘‘I would like to thank Rotary for their support of me. It has been a big help in getting me here and helping me to further my dream of flying,’’ Thomas said.
While he would have just met the minimum age criteria for last year’s camp, Thomas decided to wait until he was a little older and concentrate on schoolwork that furthered the knowledge needed to fly.
On just the second day at the camp, Thomas was behind the controls of an aircraft and since that initial foray into the skies he has continued to learn the fundamentals of flight.
The goal of every student at the twoweek camp is to fly solo by the end of training and Thomas was confident he would achieve this. ‘‘I also want to be able to fly more than the minimum 81⁄ hours at the camp,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘I am aiming for between 12 and 15 hours and then hopefully I can come back next year as a secondyear student.
‘‘Flying is everything I thought it would be. It’s amazing being at the controls, you start off knowing nothing and by the end of 14 days you are flying by yourself.’’
Thomas hopes to undertake an aviation degree at Massey University next year with the aim of flying commercial airliners.
Dream come true: (left) Thomas Schweizer loved learning how to fly at the 2012 Walsh Memorial Flying School.