Matthew from Auckland’s Massey High School is in Ohakea at the RNZAF pilot training school where he’s in for the ride of his life and will find out if he’s got ‘the right stuff.’
Ohakea is where all RNZAF pilots earn their wings but before they even get to touch the controls of an aircraft, each pilot hopeful has already successfully completed a 22-week Initial Officer Training Course at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. At Ohakea they will spend five weeks in the ‘classroom’ and need to pass regular tests with a minimum of 80% before they get fitted with their very own flying helmet, safety vest and parachute and take to the sky.
Matthew skips the usual prerequisites and is taken to be fitted with is helmet and other equipment, including sick bags, before being taken on his ‘famil’ or familiarisation flight. Commanding Officer of Pilot Training Squadron, Squadron Leader Anthony Budd, gives Matthew a thrilling flight in the CT4E training aircraft with plenty of aerobatics thrown in for good measure. As Anthony says, the aim of the flight is “to whet your appetite and generally see how much aerobatics you can take without throwing up!”
Mission accomplished and if Matthew were undertaking his training for real, once conquering the CT4E trainer, he’d be on to the King Air twin engine aircraft for further training to make up his 200+ hours required to achieve his wings.
Once a training pilot has successfully completed these hours during the course of around 18 months and has his or her wings, they will then be posted to a squadron where they will continue their learning on larger aircraft such as the P3 Orion, Hercules, Boeing 757 or Iroquois helicopter. A virtual trainer (simulator) is used to assist with training and is also a vital tool for learning how to deal with emergency situations.
There are some 177 pilots in the RNZAF and of those, around 75 are actively flying. As a career choice, the RNZAF offers outstanding opportunities to not only be paid as you learn, but to experience a wide range of social benefits not to mention opportunities for overseas travel and working alongside like-minded, motivated people.
For Matthew, a taste of what could be during his discovery of life as a pilot trainee has definitely been an incredible experience and has now got him thinking it could be just the job for him!
Find out more about this, and a huge variety of other careers, at http://www.justthejob.co.nz