Waikanae Air Scouts have become the fourth Air Scouts troop in New Zealand to achieve formal recognition from Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

At a celebration last week the group was recognised with Scouts New Zealand chief executive Joshua Tabor there to honour the group.

"You are joining a small but select group of Scouts," Joshua said.

"You should never assume that just because something is small there is a lack of action.

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"That is particularly true of the Waikanae Air Scout Troop and how they have evolved and built over the last 18 months.

"It is testament to the passion and commitment the team has shown."

Air Scout Troops that meet a number of set requirements can apply for formal RNZAF recognition which gives them the right to wear the RNZAF Roundel, obtain their own liaison person, and even the potential to experience flights with RNZAF.

"We were inspected by two officers earlier this year and have been awarded this honour," Air Scouts section leader Kitty Fitton said.

"We are only the fourth troop in New Zealand to achieve this."

Kitty started the group in 2017 and in two short years Waikanae Air Scouts have gone from nothing to a thriving Scouts troop.

"Air recognition is not a trivial or insignificant accomplishment," Joshua said.

"I wish to extend my congratulations to the leadership team, the senior Scouts, Scouts and Cubs.

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"You should be very proud of what you have accomplished."

The group was started after Kitty decided she wanted to offer young people in her community something different after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease.

So she faced her fears of flying and signed up to the National Scout Aviation School in Palmerston North.

"I had a fear of flying, but a desire to prove I could still achieve things, therefore I signed up to the National Scout Aviation School in Palmerston North and later that year, October 2017, launched Waikanae Air Scouts along with Mike Doyle and Emma Addington," Kitty said.

The group teaches traditional Scouting, tramping, camping, survival skills and citizenship.
They also teach all-round aviation which includes meteorology, navigation, engineering and flying.

"Our young people come from a diverse range of backgrounds and abilities, but are all welcome.

"Some have begun logging hours in anticipation of obtaining their private pilot's licence and those not keen on flying have enjoyed learning about engines and avionics."

The recognition from the RNZAF came after being inspected by two RNZAF officers earlier this year.

RNZAF Command Warrant Officer of training and support (air) Jake McPhee said, "Earlier this year we conducted an inspection and we asked some questions of the troop at our visit.

"Following the inspection we went to the Chief of Air Force and said 'Sir, what they are doing in Waikanae is pretty good'.

"He asked more questions which we validated and he enabled his number two, the Deputy Chief of the Airforce to issue a formal recognition of the Waikanae Air Scout Group by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

"This aligns the Waikanae Air Scout Troop with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

"We look forward to engaging further so we can build a relationship between the Waikanae Air Scout Troop and RNZAF itself."