Young aviation students will have to content themselves with watching more advanced trainees take flight for now, but they already have wings.

The New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy in Whanganui welcomed new students by presenting them with silver wing badges that were placed in a cabinet where they will remain until they graduate.

Academy chief executive Phillip Bedford said the students would be able to look at their wings each time they passed the cabinet during training and they would provide a strong incentive.

"Each time you confront new challenges, you can walk by the cabinet, see your wings and remember your goal," he told them.

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The students were told that there are no shortcuts to their training and assured them their progress would be tested by external examiners.

Tony Gilbertson adds his wings to the cabinet after the presentation by Phillip Bedford. Photo/Bevan Conley
Tony Gilbertson adds his wings to the cabinet after the presentation by Phillip Bedford. Photo/Bevan Conley

The first intake of 2019 includes four international students and New Zealand students who are in Whanganui for the first time.

Aditi Gupta, from India, is the only female student in the group and says she is quite comfortable with that.

"I'm the only female in this group but there are others at the academy who are at a more advanced stage."

Once she qualifies and returns home, she is likely to join a workforce that is made up of an almost equal number of women and men, Bedford says.

"India has the highest number of women pilots in the world and we hope to see more of their young women coming to Whanganui to train."

Ariihau Pihatarioe, from Tahiti, says he heard about the academy from a friend who gained his pilot's licence there.

International students from Vietnam, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, China, Singapore and Fiji have been attending the academy since it was officially opened by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy in August last year.

In October, the academy acquired three new planes - a Diamond DA42 that has an advanced Garmin 1000 avionics system and two Cessna 172s, refurbished by Oceania Aviation in Hamilton.

Another initiative at the academy has been to give secondary students a chance to take on pilot training while they're still in high school.

Three more students who already have a number of flying hours under their belts are set to join the latest recruits soon.

They are Louis Salano, from Mexico, Loftus Stanford, from Taihape, and Casey Lithgow, from Whanganui.