Since 1967, every year more than 80 young people have gathered at Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School to learn or work on their flying skills.
For NZALPA member Gary Parata, this year’s camp (10-24 January) is his fifteenth providing flight instructor services to the school. A full-time Air Nelson pilot and part-time instructor, Parata uses the time to keep in touch with his General Aviation roots and mentor young people in aviation.
Other NZALPA members, airline pilots and instructors volunteer at the two-week camp too, during which time new flyers receive 8.5 hours of flying time, while returning attendees work on their existing skillset.
“A component of the camp is to educate them about careers in aviation, but it’s more about giving young people a challenge and an experience they’ll never forget – the flying is really secondary,” Parata says.
Attendees are young people aged 16-19, with first referrals being registrations made through members of Scouts New Zealand.
“I wish I knew about the camp when I was growing up – it’s really grown as a programme with so many large organisations wanting to support it,” Parata says.
Of the more than 80 teens who attend the camp at the Waharoa airfield near Matamata, he estimates that 10 percent of the attendees go on to aviation careers. At the close of the camp there are opportunities for the Air Force, Air New Zealand, the Met Service and career pilots and air traffic controllers to present on the aviation industry.
The Walsh Memorial Flying School, was created by George Arkley in 1967, and named for the Walsh brothers Leo and Vivian who set up New Zealand’s first flying school in 1919.