Teens learning from best in aviation
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.