Ro­tary chips in

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By DAVID HULME

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.

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