Katikati school children have been treated to an Air Force parachute display followed by a science lesson.
Pupils from Katikati College, Katikati Primary School and daycare centres in the area turned out to witness the show from the NZ Defence Force Kiwi Blue Parachute Display Team yesterday.
Katikati College principal Carolyn Pentecost said the special occasion was thanks to science teacher Anderley Middleton who organised the event.
"We've got some really incredible staff here who go out of their way to give our kids different learning opportunities."
Before the big moment, the aeroplane rumbled as it circled over the college's sports field where the crowd was gathered.
According to Glen Donaldson, the NZDF Squadron Leader and Officer Commanding Parachute Training and Support Unit, the team jumped out of the aeroplane from a height of 9000 feet.
From there, they free-fell in a formation down to 5000 feet, before breaking apart to allow space to open their parachutes at 4000 feet.
The squad then re-grouped in the air before swooping down to land next to the cheering crowd. The team was quickly swarmed by the school children who had questions galore to ask the parachuters.
Afterwards, the team enjoyed a morning tea provided by the school before heading into a school hall for a physics lesson on how the parachutes work.
"It's an authentic learning opportunity with the kids," Pentecost said.
"Hopefully it will provide some other opportunities for our students to see where else they can go career-wise."
Katikati College student Ben Tanner, 12, was one of the many students in the excited crowd.
"It was pretty cool to see everyone cheering when they came down," he said. "I've never seen [gliders] with smoke behind … they came down pretty fast."
The youngster has eyed up a career in the Air Force.
If all goes to plan, Tanner could join one of the parachuters, Te Hai Kingi, as an Air Force staffer.
Kingi, a former Te Puke High School student, said it was "awesome" yet unreal to be back on home turf.
"It's a bit weird, especially coming from the Bay. I never thought I'd be standing in [these] shoes.
"I never saw anything as cool as this with the skydiving, but it's pretty amazing."
After high school, Kingi joined the Defence Force for 10 years. He picked up skydiving as a hobby and nearly left the army to pursue it as a career.
"I wanted to do it as a job and then I was told about this by a parachute jumping instructor."
He then switched to the Air Force and has not looked back.
Glen Donaldson, the Squadron Leader Officer, said it was great for the team to come into the school.
"It's great for us to come into a smaller community.
"Rather than just being a part of airshows, we can do these smaller displays and actually get in and meet the kids and have lots of questions asked."