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WB 06-0015-03


Over its 25 years, the annual Air Training Corp’s National Aviation Course for ATC Cadets held at Woodbourne in January, has launched many RNZAF and countless aviation careers. Grant Carr reports.

It’s hard to imagine anything more thrilling for a teenager to do over your holidays than learn to fly or navigate. It’s certainly a unique experience for the 53 students who took part and something to boast about when you go on to college, university, RNZAF or an aviation career. Obviously therefore there’s a fair degree of competition for the limited number of places on the course.

For the Power Flying Flight students (aged 16 to 19 years) must submit an application four months ahead. Selection for the Flight’s 35 places is jointly made by HQNZCF and the Air Training Corps Association of NZ (ATCANZ). For the Navigation Flight students (aged 15 to 18) the 18 places are allocated by HQNZCF on a geographic and unit basis.

Gender plays no part in selection. Seven females attended this year’s Power Flying Flight and four were on the Navigation Flight. That’s a bit lower than the more balanced rolls of previous years.

Places are limited due to the costs of sponsorship and in the interests of manageability and safety. There are dangers of course. Flying is an intrinsically dangerous activity but in the hands of its expert instructors it’s about as safe as it can be. Indeed, the course has a very good safety record with no injuries recorded over its entire history.

ATCANZ arrange the aircraft with the help of WGCDR John Neal who sources aircraft from all over New Zealand, looking for the best deal on operating costs of club or private aircraft. The seven aircraft used on the Power Flying Flight are two-seater Piper Tomahawks or Cessna 152s. The

Gwen Douglas of No 17 (City of Christchurch) Squadron analyses her maps during a training flight as part of the Air Navigation Course

three Navigation Flight are similar – four-seater Piper Cherokees Cessna 172s and are organized by Nelson NZCF FLTLT Craig Piner.

There’s only one other course like it in New Zealand - the Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School at Matamata. It’s aimed at Scouts but some ATC Cadets have attended in the past.

At Woodbourne the Cadets get a chance to have a look around the base. They sleep in barracks, eat in the mess and use GTW facilities for instruction. And the course gets outstanding support from Base Woodbourne. In addition to the ‘can-do attitude of Base command and personnel it provides logistic support – including rations, accommodation, transport, flight line equipment, classrooms, offices, computers and a myriad other things that crop up in aviation activity.

And while the main thrust of the course is learning to fly or navigate the ATC has certain inherent values – respect, self discipline – at the heart of its organisation.



WN 06-0052-04

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