Summer success at the Walsh
Fifty years since the first summer flying camp was held during January 1967 at Matamata Airfield, situated just north of the small Waikato town of Waharoa on SH27, the 51st Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School (generally known as the “Walsh”) again achieved many successes.
The school, named in honour of the early aviation pioneering brothers Leo and Vivian Walsh, this year accommodated 44 ab initio and 26 returned students, plus two student staff members who undertook their flying tasks while at the airfield. As in past years, these students all achieved so much, both individually and collectively, during the two weeks they were camped together on the airfield.
A fleet of 16 two-seat aeroplanes, Cessna 152s and Piper PA-38 Tomahawks, plus one four-seat Cessna 172, were used for training. Two evenings of night flying were scheduled, but weather conditions delayed these and in the end only one night was entirely suitable. Because of that it was a very busy 2½ hours of flying that evening!
The opportunity for a number of students and staff to take familiarisation flights in aircraft provided by their operators had people queuing for sorties in a Diamond DA40 Diamond Star supplied by the Massey University School of Aviation, a DHC-1 Chipmunk, an Ercoupe, a Citabria, an Airtourer, a CT-4 Airtrainer and a Nanchang CJ-6, with some giving students the thrill of sampling aerobatics.
Unfortunately, weather conditions this year on the designated day prevented members of the Tiger Moth Club from giving some students and a few of the staff the chance to fly in open-cockpit aeroplanes. So guys, please come back to future schools as you will be welcomed with open arms if you can provide the same opportunity that previous school participants have experienced!
A flypast by an RNZAF C-130H(NZ) Hercules was an early highlight in the school calendar this year, while visitors on Family Day were a RNZAF Beechcraft B200 King Air and NH90-TTH helicopter, made available for viewing while parked on the ground, along with a flying display by a Beechcraft T-6C Texan II.
This year was another busy school, with six air traffic controllers handling almost 8000 aircraft movements during the days they were on watch, including the busiest day that saw over 1000 movements. Although the numbers of movements handled were down when compared with some of the other schools, that was caused by this year’s weather conditions.
Still, well done to my ATC colleagues this year—Kate, Jason, Steve, Janet and Peter, plus James for his work leading up to the school and his oversight during the fortnight-long camp.
The annual Family Day provided an opportunity for family members and friends of the students and staff to visit the school and see how it normally functions. That afternoon several flight instructors demonstrated their short field takeoff and landing abilities in various aircraft. Steve Scott (Tomahawk), James Hillson (Cessna 152), Andrew Sims (Nanchang CJ-6) and Aaron Silcock (Airtrainer) displayed the characteristics of tricycle undercarriage aircraft, while up against them in taildraggers were Nick Rowe in his wife’s Cessna A185, Carlton Campbell in his Champion 7GCBC Citabria and Rod Milne flying his Just Aircraft SuperSTOL.
The benefit of providing a commentary on events meant that I was also judge and jury! Consequently, as in past years, all but one entrant was disqualified for a variety of reasons … and the winner was Rod Milne for a combination of his aircraft’s incredible capabilities and his decision to use the entire width of the grass strip to land in the shortest distance beyond the touchdown marker.
Following the Wings Parade, held during the afternoon on the final day of flying, was the evening Awards Dinner. Scout Wings were presented to all the ab-initio students who had completed their first solo flight at this school and passed an exam testing their knowledge of the elements that they had learnt over the previous fortnight.
Students who had achieved the most during their two weeks at the school were awarded various prizes for their efforts. Over two dozen different awards were presented, including magazine subscriptions, membership of the New Zealand Association of Women in Aviation, work experience days with Airways NZ, MetService and Air New Zealand (including a return trip with a crew in an airliner), aircraft simulator sessions with Air NZ, a week spent on base with an RNZAF operational squadron, a package with flight time from Massey University School of Aviation, PPL and CPL ground courses with Ardmore Flying School and even a monetary prize for use toward additional flying and instruction. Some of these awards were a combination of an activity, flying time and/or money to allow the recipient to continue their pursuits in aviation.
John King, editor of NZ Aviation News, presented awards of one-year subscriptions to this publication to eight students. He also reminded the audience to not discount a career as an aviation photojournalist … maybe he is looking for someone next year to supply him with photographs from the school along with a few words (based on the old adage of “a photo is worth a thousand words”), rather than what he is used to getting from me which is normally a few photos and several thousand words?
Guest speaker at the Awards Dinner this year was Waipukurau-based commercial pilot Lea Giblin who spoke of her aviation achievements and flying experiences. And the final award to be presented was to the highest-achieving ab-initio student. This year the Walsh Trophy went to Auckland-based student Ben Mitchell.
- Report by Phil Craig, photography by David Jupp & John King.
» Summer success at the Walsh
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» Comper moves swiftly
» UAV usefulness increasing
» Woodville’s even dozen
» 60th birthday party for ZK-BNL
» New airline MRO facility
» Hands across the Southern Alps
» Praise earned in tough place