There was lots of excitement at Te Rā School in Raumati South when a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) A109 light utility helicopter visited today.
The visit was organised by parent Rebecca Hewson, whose daughter Pippa, 9, attends the school.
“Pippa’s class was doing a careers module.
“One of the dads is a firefighter, so he organised for a fire truck to be brought to the school.
“Another dad is a police officer, so he brought in a police car.
“I work in the navy as a maritime exercise planner, so I thought I would try to bring in a helicopter.”
Rebecca put in the request and was rapt when it was approved.
She even measured the school’s small field to ensure there was enough room for the chopper to land.
“I paced the field out a week beforehand because I wasn’t sure it would fit, but the squadron leader said it would.”
Students weren’t told about visit in case the visit had to be canned due to poor weather.
“So it has been a bit of a surprise for a lot of them”.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force A109 departed Ohakea Air Base and easily landed in the school field in sunny, still conditions shortly before 11am.
After the chopper was turned off, the students entered the field and listened to the five crew members describe the aircraft before answering various questions from the children.
“How fast does it go?” a student inquired.
“It can go about 300km/h at maximum speed,” a crew member responded.
Another student wanted to know how high it could fly.
“We can go up to 16,000 feet, but there’s not much oxygen up there so we don’t go that high often,” another crew member said.
The school performed a mihi to thank the crew and the NZDF for the visit.
After the school visit, which included the children being allowed to explore the rear part of the aircraft, the crew took the helicopter to the South Island to train for mountaintop landings.