A former Tauranga Boys College student has aims to get his "wings" - something he has dreamed about for years.
Today, Luke Oxford, 20, is one step closer to achieving his goal after recently being named top pilot in his class at Massey University's School of Aviation.
Oxford received his Air New Zealand Flying Award at the school's recent Wings Ceremony after achieving excellence in all the flight test examinations required to gain his commercial pilot's licence.
In his third and final year of a Bachelor of Aviation Degree, he was "quite overwhelmed" by the award, but rapt all his hard work had paid off.
"It seemed quite surreal that out of a cohort of extremely talented students I had been chosen as the top pilot.
"After receiving the award I felt a huge wave of emotion rush over me – my hard work and tenacity had paid off more than I'd bargained for," Oxford said.
Getting his commercial pilot's licence, or "wings" was something he has dreamed of since college days.
He had been "crazy about aircraft" for as long as he could remember because his parents Lynette and Steve both had their private pilot's licence.
"From an early age I would find any excuse possible to accompany them on a flight."
Oxford said Massey's Bachelor of Aviation Degree seemed the best pathway to becoming a professional pilot.
"The wings represent more than just the accomplishment of my commercial training. To me, they represent the hard work and dedication I have put into my journey at Massey," Oxford said.
"Every time I pin on my wings they remind me of the values I developed throughout my training and give me confidence in my ability as an aviator."
Oxford said his most memorable experience at Massey was taking his father on a flight to Whitianga for lunch.
"I was able to teach him about the aircraft's advanced glass cockpit – somewhat different from the traditional instruments he was used to.
"After years of Dad taking me on flights, I finally got to take him on one – it was very special for the both of us."
Oxford is training to be a flight instructor with the Tauranga Aero Club, while undertaking aviation management papers via remote learning through Massey University.
"The degree course has been like cramming four years of usual study into three, and my student loan is the six figure range, he said.
But Oxford's ultimate aim after graduating was to fly for Air New Zealand.
"Flying for our flagship airline would be like a dream come true."