Rosalie Willis looks into the history of the Kāpiti Districts Aero Club.
Formed almost 40 years ago, the Kāpiti Districts Aero Club has been a hub for training pilots since 1983.
Currently operating 12 aircrafts and owning six, the club has grown from a Wellington Aero Club satellite operation at what was then called Paraparaumu Airport back in the 1940s to a fully-fledged club providing first class practical and theoretical pilot training in fixed wing aircrafts.
"Our main focus and main activity is pilot training," club president Tony Quayle said.
"Almost 60 per cent of the 3446 hours flow by the club last year was dual training and a significant portion of the balance was students undertaking solo practice."
As of today the club has 306 members and over the last year has conducted 182 fixed wing and 25 helicopter trial flights.
Trial flights are flights which anyone can book and experience, no need to be part of the club.
"It's as simple as booking your first lesson with an instructor.
"Depending on how regularly students are able to fly, most will have gone solo by the time they've logged 20 hours flying.
"Most will have attained their full private pilot licence after 60-70 flying hours."
A turning point for the club occurred in the summer of 2013/2014 when the club moved into new clubrooms.
"The club quickly flourished when released from the constraints of the old, smelly, terminal building that leaked and had uneven floors," club secretary Peter Merwood said.
With a pleasant place to gather, socialise and operate from, membership numbers and flying hours increased meaning the club was able to expand its training fleet to the five C-152s they currently operate today.
With constant changes to the general aviation environment in recent years, the club has also found an increase in members purchasing recreational aircrafts.
"The general aviation environment is constantly changing in response to modern aircraft becoming available, rapid advances in technology and changes to Civil Aviation Rules.
"Once upon a time these were considered to be a cheap, drafty aircraft that you had to be brave to fly in," Peter said.
"Nowadays they are modern, well-built aircraft powered by very efficient engines and are packed with technology that was previously only seen in much larger aircraft."
With most aircrafts the club operate cruising at 185-225km/h, the ground passes by quickly making navigation very important.
During a pilot's training they are taught to navigate by traditional means using a map, ruler, compass and clock.
However, after qualifying most pilots quickly gravitate to performing all navigation using sophisticated aviation applications that run on an iPad or Android tablet.
"Using these, a flight plan can be developed on the couch at home with all the time, distance and fuel calculations automatically performed and then used in the aircraft.
"With the bright, clear moving maps these applications display, there is seldom any doubt where you are."
Along with training, the club runs overnight trips, competitions, training workshops and pilot evenings.
"Learning to fly and flying for fun with others in a club environment is a rewarding experience.
"It teaches you how to think in three dimensions, plan ahead and develop a situational awareness that takes into account weather, other aircraft and airspace all while operating within prescriptive rules designed to protect you and others in the aviation system.
"We are spoilt in New Zealand with a freedom to fly almost anywhere and over stunning scenery that is the envy of many pilots around the world."
To read about trial flights with the club see Adventurous on land and water but what about adventuring by air?