Otago Daily Times

Pi­lot on com­mer­cial flight path

- GUS PAT­TER­SON gus.pat­ter­son@odt.co.nz New Zealand · Oamaru · Invercargill · Timaru · India · Pleasant Point · Oamaru Airport

JUST mo­ments into her first flight, El­lie McIl­raith knew she wanted to be a pi­lot.

Six years later, Miss McIl­raith (23) is now one of the New Zealand Air­line Academy’s nine flight in­struc­tors at Oamaru Air­port.

Orig­i­nally from Pleas­ant Point, she be­gan the role about a year ago af­ter gain­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion in Invercargi­ll and Ti­maru.

When she was still at school and ‘‘won­der­ing what I was go­ing to do with my life’’, her par­ents bought her a trial flight for Christ­mas.

‘‘Within five sec­onds I was like ‘Yes, this is me’,’’ Miss McIl­raith said.

The nov­elty of fly­ing had still not worn off. She got a thrill ev­ery time she flew over snow­capped moun­tains.

‘‘And the stu­dents keep you on your toes,’’ she said.

Even­tu­ally, she hoped to fly com­mer­cially for a ma­jor air­line but, un­til then, she was en­joy­ing her work in Oamaru.

The New Zealand Air­line Academy had re­mained busy this year, even though new in­ter­na­tional stu­dents had been un­able to start due to border re­stric­tions, she said.

‘‘Through­out Covid it’s been re­ally re­as­sur­ing to keep work­ing. It’s been good, it’s re­ally con­sis­tent.’’

How­ever, New Zealand Air­line Academy chief flight in­struc­tor Cel­roy Mas­caren­has said it was im­por­tant the coun­try’s bor­ders were re­opened to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents soon.

At present, 74 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents were train­ing at the academy and it had been swamped with en­rol­ment re­quests, Mr Mas­caren­has said.

De­spite the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional flights fall­ing be­cause of the Covid­19 pan­demic, the Asian do­mes­tic mar­ket, where most of the stu­dents came from, re­mained strong, he said.

‘‘The civil avi­a­tion min­is­ter of In­dia has fore­cast a short­age of 10,000 pi­lots in In­dia over the next five years.

‘‘So it is very im­por­tant that bor­ders are opened to these high net­worth stu­dents who bring in a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money into the econ­omy.

‘‘They are even happy to pay for their own quar­an­tine at an ap­proved fa­cil­ity, if re­quired, and are ready to come over at short no­tice.’’

 ?? PHOTO: GUS PAT­TER­SON ?? Fly­ing high . . . New Zealand Air­line Academy in­struc­tor El­lie McIl­raith is right at home in the Tec­num P­208.
PHOTO: GUS PAT­TER­SON Fly­ing high . . . New Zealand Air­line Academy in­struc­tor El­lie McIl­raith is right at home in the Tec­num P­208.

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