Teens learn­ing from best in avi­a­tion

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - REXINE HAWES

It’s not ev­ery­day you get the op­por­tu­nity to take off in a plane from one of the busiest air­fields in the south­ern hemi­sphere.

But that’s ex­actly what teenagers from around the coun­try were do­ing over the last two weeks.

Around 70 teens are train­ing at the Walsh Me­mo­rial Fly­ing School, at the Wa­haroa air­field, dur­ing a two-week camp of­fer­ing avi­a­tion train­ing.

While the camp is run­ning, it is the busiest air­field in the south­ern hemi­sphere, sur­pass­ing both Auck­land and Hamil­ton air­ports with a daily av­er­age of 1100 move­ments per day.

Zack Judge, 16, from Mor­rinsville is an ab-ini­tio stu­dent, or first timer.

He joins 40 other ab-ini­tios, the ma­jor­ity of which have never had ex­pe­ri­ence fly­ing a plane. The other 30 are re­turn stu­dents, con­sol­i­dat­ing and ex­tend­ing the fly­ing they did the pre­vi­ous year.

Zack got his ‘‘dream’’ op­por­tu­nity through a Brian Perry schol­ar­ship, and like the ma­jor­ity of other stu­dents, will have taken his first solo flight by the time the camp ends.

‘‘I have al­ways wanted to come here, ev­ery story I have ever heard about it is pretty ac­cu­rate,’’ he said.

Also join­ing the Walsh fly­ing

‘‘It's a neat en­vi­ron­ment, it's putting back what I have en­joyed in a ca­reer in avi­a­tion.’’

school staff for the first time is camp di­rec­tor John Hamil­ton.

Hamil­ton has 35 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the air­force and eight years as di­rec­tor of Min­istry of Civil De­fence in emer­gency man­age­ment.

‘‘It’s a neat en­vi­ron­ment, it’s putting back what I have en­joyed in a ca­reer in avi­a­tion,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s an op­por­tu­nity to see kids get the op­por­tu­nity to do this, and hope­fully some of them will go on to a ca­reer in avi­a­tion.

‘‘Plenty of past stu­dents have gone onto fly for ma­jor air­lines, some have re­turned as in­struc­tors.’’

He says up to 25 per­cent of the stu­dents from Walsh will go on to a ca­reer in avi­a­tion.

As for Zack, he has high hopes to be­come a he­li­copter pi­lot with the New Zealand Air­force, but for now he is just happy to be a stu­dent.

‘‘It’s a great place, and even if there wasn’t any fly­ing and I had to do chores, I would still come,’’ he said.

Zach Judge and Niva Shee­han are learn­ing to fly dur­ing the camp.


In­struc­tor Bianca Bar­barich-Bacher from Auck­land with James Urquhart from Ro­torua and Gareth Lacey from Auck­land.

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