22 January 2012
Sergeant Aidan Smith on the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course in January 2012.
Clyde local Aidan Smith is one of thirty-five cadets who have had the opportunity of a lifetime during the holidays; flying an aeroplane solo.
Aidan,16, a Sergeant in the Air Training Corps (ATC) has spent the past 10 days at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, living the life of a pilot and flying every day as part of the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course.
The former Dunstan High School student has been a member of the ATC since 2008, and says this year has been his best so far.
"Becoming a pilot has always been my dream and the ATC has allowed me to achieve it," Aidan said.
"Flying solo has definitely been the best part. It’s awesome to have achieved it after all the hard work I’ve put in.
"It is a little scary though; realising the responsibility we hold when we’re up there. Being professional and critical of your decision making is essential to getting back down safely," says Aidan.
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 says 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."
"Between ATC, playing representative hockey, cricket and rugby back home I’m usually pretty busy but always manage to make time for flying," says Aidan.
"I’m looking at getting my private pilots licence this year so need to work hard to keep my experience and flying confidence up, so I can hopefully one day make a career out of it."
For more information, contact Todd O'Hara, Defence Communications Group on 021 626 578.
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.
For more information visit www.cadetforces.mil.nz