Otamatea College has created a precedent for Northland secondary schools with the opening of a purpose-built aviation academy.
Officially opened earlier this month, the aviation construction course actually began about five months ago. Twelve Year 11 students have been selected to start the inaugural three-year course.
The brain child of retired teacher Paul Morrison, a former head of technology at the school, the course has received the thumbs up from not only the community, but the Royal New Zealand Air Force whose representatives were at the opening ceremony.
While the students will be learning how to construct light aircraft, the course will also focus on developing young people with work-ready employment skills - not just in aircraft engineering - but transferable skills such as team building and leadership.
Mr Morrison, a pilot, is also a licensed aircraft engineer, holds a Microlight Inspection Authority, an engine reconditioning certificate and is an experienced aircraft restorer.
Academy students must maintain normal studies in addition to time spent at the academy.