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Lower Hutt Local Takes Flight

Warrant Officer Callum Hodgson on the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course in January 2012.

Warrant Officer Callum Hodgson on the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course in January 2012.

Lower Hutt local Callum Hodgson is one of thirty-five cadets who have had the opportunity of a lifetime during the holidays; flying an aeroplane solo.

Callum, 17, a Warrant Officer in the Air Training Corps (ATC) has spent the past 10 days at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, living the life of a pilot and flying every day as part of the New Zealand Cadet Forces National Aviation Course.

Growing up in Normandale, the former Wellington College student has been a member of the ATC since 2007 after his Dad introduced him to it. He’s now an instructor in his unit and he’s never looked back.

"Dad made me turn up the first night and I wasn’t sure about it. It turned out the unit were flying that weekend, so I filled in the form, went flying and caught the bug," said Callum.

The aviation course, subsidised by scholarships and fundraising enables cadets to receive high quality, intense training which fast tracks them to solo flight. The course involves daily rituals of early wake ups, morning weather briefings and ground training when not flying.

Chief flying instructor and Cadet Force Officer, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Craig Walecki said the course is considered one of the highest achievements for any cadet.

"With 35 cadets going through each year we have the opportunity to help young people achieve their goals and fly by themselves," said FLTLT Walecki

"It’s even a great experience for the instructors. Many of us return year after year to volunteer our time and give back."

Callum said the best part of the course was the teamwork.

"We have to learn all the pre-flight checks for the aircraft before we’re allowed to fly solo. But there’s a lot to learn so we often end up spending evenings together sitting in the aircraft going over them."

When he’s not flying, Callum plays soccer, saxophone, sings and works part time as a landscaper while he studies at Victoria University.

"One of the best things about as a cadet instructor in the unit is being able to pass on what I learn on this course to the next generation of cadets coming through," said Callum.

"I can’t wait to go back to the aero club and keep learning. I’m looking forward to the day I can fly my parents to Nelson for lunch."

ENDS

For more information, contact Todd O'Hara, Defence Communications Group on 021 626 578.

Background Info:

The Air Training Corps is the Air branch of the New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF). The NZCF are for young people aged 13 to 18. They comprise the Sea Cadet Corps, the New Zealand Cadet Corps and the Air Training Corps. It is a voluntary, disciplined, uniformed youth leadership training organisation.

The organisation is not part of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), but is directed by the Chief of Defence Force, on behalf of the Minister of Defence, and is supported in partnership by the NZDF and the community.

For more information visit www.cadetforces.mil.nz

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