Youth in Aviation at Masterton
Rex Kenny addresses the gathering about CAA opportunities.
With the frequent mention in the press and on television of the difficulties of young people gaining employment, as well as attracting them to aviation careers, it was pleasing to be part of a whole day spent giving young people an insight into what opportunities might be available in the aviation industry.
The rather damp day at Hood Aerodrome for the Wellington Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Youth in Aviation field day began for the organisers at 9.00am on 29 October with a briefing in the Sport & Vintage Aviation Society’s museum building. John Lanham, RAeS member, retired CAA manager and well-known local pilot, gave a general run-down of the day’s events before everybody moved to the main hangar area and the eager youngsters.
The group of over 40 young males and females, comprising ATC cadets from Wellington, Hutt Valley, Porirua and the Wairarapa plus students from local schools, were welcomed by RAeS Wellington Branch chairman David Saunders before RAeS national president Frank Sharp gave a formal welcome to all present and an insight into the day’s events. He outlined the RAeS’s role in aviation with an emphasis on the fact that this field day was hopefully the first of many throughout the country giving young people an insight into aviation work.
An appropriate start to the aviation day was a brief talk by Scott Thomson of TVAL before all those attending were split into three groups for a comprehensive tour of TVAL’s collection of aircraft. Everybody then gathered back at the SVAS for a session run by Sycamore Ltd, a Wellington-based RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) company.
It began with Steven Davis-Howard talking on RPAs, a relatively new innovation but one offering much potential. After watching a video of UAVs at work, the audience gathered outside for a demonstration of two UAVs showing off their capabilities, made even more exciting when two youngsters even had a go at flying the machines themselves.
After a barbecue lunch prepared by the local 21 Squadron ATC parents and staff, it was back into the aviation scene with a new speaker and a new area of aviation. Rex Kenny of the CAA gave a talk on his role, job opportunities for young people and his own working career which included 31yr as an airframe fitter in the RNZAF.
Wayne Fisk then gave a talk on what is available in the gliding area of aviation and how to get started, giving a broad coverage of aviation opportunities, ideal information for eager young people.
All the participants had a chance of winning aviation orientated prizes, sponsored by Massey University and its Aviation School, by completing a questionnaire when applying to attend the aviation field day. Logan Keats, 41 Squadron ATC Porirua, won a flight in a Massey University Diamond; Walter Taber, Kuranui College, Greytown, and Rory McLachlan, Upper Hutt College, each won a Chipmunk flight; and Bowen Milner, Rathkeale College, Greytown, was awarded a visit to an air traffic control unit.
With intermittent rain during the day, outside activities were done as and when possible, but all the winners managed to have their flight experiences, with Logan Keats enjoying the double pleasure of celebrating his birthday.
Other outside events included another session with remote controlled UAVs, while topdressing exhibitions, both fixed and rotary wing, were given by Tim Williams with a Hughes 300 and John Bargh in his Air Tractor. Bevan Dewes of TVAL gave a good demonstration of the flying capabilities of the Chipmunk before taking up two of the prize winners for their air experience flights.
Back in the museum building the career opportunity sessions continued with local parachutist/skydiver Marty Lloyd explaining the ins and outs of parachuting. This was followed with a session by ag expert and pilot Robert Thurston of Super Air giving the youngsters an insight into ag operations.
Next up was an Airways Corporation presentation with career information by Mark Costello of Palmerston North ATC. The final session, and another classic, was by Mike Thomas of the RNZAF who gave an idea of the job opportunities available in the service and his own career highlights.
The events finally concluded after 4.30pm, at which point the audience was still very attentive, and I made a point of seeking their views on the day. All were delighted with the information given, offering such comments as, “I was thinking about an aviation career, now I’m positive it’s what I want.”
The organisers, the RAeS, SVAS, TVAL, pilots and all the speakers are to be congratulated for such an excellent, informative day.
- Report and photographs by Clive Wilkinson.
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