Auckland Pair Takes Flight

22 January 2012

Corporals Yatharth Mitra and Philip Dunlop on the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course in January 2012.

Corporals Yatharth Mitra and Philip Dunlop on the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course in January 2012.

Howick and Pakuranga locals, Yatharth Mitra and Philip Dunlop are two of thirty-five cadets who have had the opportunity of a lifetime; flying an aeroplane solo.

Yatharth, 16 and Philip, 17, both Corporals in the Air Training Corps (ATC) have spent the past 10 days at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, living the lives of pilots and flying every day as part of the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course.

Both joined the ATC in 2010 because of a common interest in aviation and wanting to get a head start, the pair have quickly made their way up into the aviation world.

Yatharth and Philip previously attended the Cadet Forces Gliding course, which gave them the experience and the bug to give this one a try.

Yatharth said, "The gliding taught me the basics and to feel how the aircraft flies."

"You only get one chance in a glider so is a great place to start. Now you put the engine into the mix it becomes that much harder," said Yatharth.

The aviation course, subsidised by scholarships and fundraising, enables cadets to receive high quality, intense training which fast tracks them to solo flight. The course involves daily rituals of early wake ups, morning weather briefings and ground training when not flying.

Chief flying instructor and Cadet Force Officer, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Craig Walecki said the course is considered one of the highest achievements for any cadet.

"With 35 cadets going through each year we have the opportunity to help young people achieve their goals and fly by themselves," said FLTLT Walecki

"It’s even a great experience for the instructors. Many of us return year after year to volunteer our time and give back."

Philip said one of the best parts of the course is the teamwork and being with people that share the same goals.

"Everyone comes to the course with a huge workload ahead. We have to learn the pre-flight checks before we’re allowed to fly solo. We ended up spending long hours together after daily briefings sitting in the aircraft and practicing.

"Everyone here wants flying to be part of their life in some way and its great to share that with others," said Philip.

Both Yatharth and Philip are planning to return to their local gliding clubs after the course until they’re old enough to move into a career.


For more information, contact Todd O'Hara, Defence Communications Group on 021 626 578.

Background Info:

The Air Training Corps is the Air branch of the New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF). The NZCF are for young people aged 13 to 18. They comprise the Sea Cadet Corps, the New Zealand Cadet Corps and the Air Training Corps. It is a voluntary, disciplined, uniformed youth leadership training organisation.

The organisation is not part of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), but is directed by the Chief of Defence Force, on behalf of the Minister of Defence, and is supported in partnership by the NZDF and the community.

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This page was last reviewed on 4 February 2013.