For 60 young Hawke's Bay and Gisborne military cadets getting to the 150th anniversary national camp being staged at Waiouru demanded a very special means of transport out of Napier yesterday.
It was a very large bus - with wings.
The air force put on a C130 Hercules to airlift the cadets, in true military style, to the Ohakea Air Base where they will then be taken by bus to Waiouru. The big four-engined transport aircraft touched down, for a brief and rare visit, just after 10.30am and took off about two hours later - its excited young cargo all safely aboard.
City of Napier 13 Squadron Air Training Corps (ATC) Flight Lieutenant Hardie Martin said initially the cadets were to travel to Ohakea by bus.
"But then we got a message from the air force and they said they would put on a C130 - they have been terrific," he said.
The cadets, from the City of Napier Cadet Unit, Ruahine Cadet Unit, Gisborne Cadet Unit, District of Hastings 11 Squadron, City of Napier 13 Squadron and City of Gisborne 14 Squadron, will be part of about 1200 cadets and officers from all over the country taking part in the eight-day exercise.
It is being staged as a memorable start to a series of activities throughout 2014, at local and national level, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the setting up of cadet units.
"They are extremely fortunate," 11 District of Hastings Squadron Pilot Officer Kevin Corbett said.
"The anniversaries only happen every 50 years so the present cadets we have have struck a good time to be in."
The cadets, aged between 14 and 18, are all in their second year or more of service, which is part of the qualification for going on the exercise.
"They are in for quite a time and it is such a very good opportunity for them," Mr Corbett said.
The cadets will spend their time under canvas at the Waiouru Camp and face long and challenging days.
Up at 6am for a quick shower, breakfast and kitting up and undergoing briefing for the tasks ahead.
They will take part in everything from firearms and archery shooting to mountain biking and marches.
"It is going to be pretty full on for them," Mr Corbett said.
Sixteen-year-old Sergeant Calum Stone, in his fourth year with 11 District of Hastings Squadron, said he had long-harboured a desire to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force and had his sights set on becoming a pilot.
"I have been down to Ohakea but this the first time I've flown in a military aircraft," he said as he prepared his kit and lined up for a boarding briefing.
The noise, the basic webbing seating and harnessing and the potentially bumpy flight against strong westerly winds was not an issue.
"No, I'm not nervous at all," he said.
As the cadets, all in the respective uniforms of their units, paraded out to the waiting air "bus" parents and families lined the terminal windows and waved farewell to their young troops.