Havelock North High student James Patrick's love for flying has earned him a prestigious Royal New Zealand Air Force scholarship.
A member of Hasting's number 11 squadron Air Training Corps, he was awarded the scholarship after his talents caught the eye of staff at a 12-day training camp in Woodburn.
In the letter of recommendation the tutor stated he was "one of the best students he's taught, a natural feel for flying," Mr Patrick recalled.
One of only four people given the scholarship each year, he is the first to receive it from Hasting's Air Training Corps.
"When you go to the air force and you say that you've done that course it's an extra thing to help you get in. It's a massive extra step to get into the air force," he said.
His passion for flying started at the age of 12 or 13, when he stopped playing football, and his father told him he needed to find another hobby.
He has since amassed $700 worth of flight simulator equipment for his computer, registered 20 hours flying time, and most recently, flew solo.
The RNZAF scholarship is a 20-day course in which he will learn to perform "loop de loops" and other stunts in small two seater red checker planes, used at Napier's Art Deco Weekend, along with three other lucky entrants.
Although Mr Patrick is certain he will pursue a career as a pilot, he is uncertain as to which path to take, with the option of civilian training or the air force.
"It's all a bit up in the air at the moment. I won't make my mind up until I get accepted into the air force."
Unit Commander Mike Wills said Mr Patrick's scholarship was thoroughly deserved.
"He's a very responsible, well mannered, diligent young man, and he is a credit to our squadron."
On top of his scholarship, Mr Patrick was promoted last night from Flight Sergeant to Warrant Officer at the corps' annual prizegiving. It is the highest rank a cadet can achieve.