22 January 2012
Flight Sergeant Dominik Wilson on the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course in January 2012.
Hastings local Dominik Wilson is one of thirty-five cadets who have had the opportunity of a lifetime during the holidays; flying an aeroplane solo.
Dominik, 16, a Flight 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.
Growing up in Hastings, the Karamu High School student has been a member of the ATC since 2010, and has always had an affinity for flying.
"I’ve wanted to join the Air Force for a long time, that's why I joined the ATC, to help prepare me for it," Dominik said.
"I noticed this particular course would give me the experience needed to fly solo which has been my goal for a couple of years so applied and thought why not give it a go."
But achieving his goal wasn’t without its challenges.
"I was diagnosed with a form of colour blindness in October, while sitting my aviation medical. Here the Aviation Doctor told me I wouldn't be able to fly for the Air Force. Of course this was 'Heart Shattering' for me, but he advised I could still fly privately with a few restrictions. I knew this was going to be a challenge and I wasn't going to give up on my dream."
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."
Dominik said that from here he’s looking forward to continuing his aviation experience any way he can and breaking down any barriers that may hold him back in achieving his goals.
"Every couple of weeks I head out to the Hawkes Bay Aero Club as a 'Young Eagle' and try helping out, cleaning the planes and talking to people.
"I need to focus on my school work for now, and in the mean time find a part time job to earn enough money to see a specialist eye doctor and find out for certain whether I can be a pilot for a job or not."
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