Manawatū students Waituhia Elers-Metuamate and Kyra Craine spent the first week of the school holidays getting a taste of all things aviation at School to Skies, a week-long intensive camp for Year 13 girls.

The Air Force Base at Auckland School to Skies is a technical and aviation-focused experience for 38 young women.

It provides a unique introduction and exposure to hands-on learning, where participants get to fix real aircraft, fly a simulator, plan a flying mission and build electronic components.

Palmerston North Girls' High School student Kyra said her passion for aviation motivated her to apply for School to Skies.

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"In February 2018 the chance to follow my dream of flying was realised when I was treated to an introductory flying lesson.

Kyra Craine of Palmerston North.
Kyra Craine of Palmerston North.

"That lesson changed my life. It ignited a determination to fly and the ambition to make flight an important part of my future," Kyra said.

"Attending the Schools to Skies programme has enabled me to experience many different facets of aviation, from engineering to piloting.

"It has really helped me to look at how a career in the Air Force could be different to going down the commercial aviation path."

Feilding High School student Waituhia has been interested in aviation for the past few years and has taken calculus and physics subjects at school to set herself up for a career in the air.

"My great-grandfather served in the Air Force in the Second World War.

"I am a Māori and Pasifika young woman and te reo Māori is my first language.

"I encourage all students in kura Māori to study science and maths, even though it can be challenging.

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"I made this my goal in Year 10. I would love to see more diversity in the Air Force, including te reo Māori-speaking pilots and role models to look up to," Waituhia said.

"Being able to take part in School to Skies was a great chance for me to see if this is the right type of career for me.

"After attending the camp I feel more motivated and determined to achieve my goals."

Most of the girls who attend School to Skies have an interest in engineering and science or are considering a career in the New Zealand Defence Force.

The camp brings together both of these elements and shows participants to the breadth of different careers and opportunities available to them in the RNZAF.

This is the fourth year the RNZAF has run the School to Skies programme.

The programme is open to female Year 13 students who are taking a Level 3 NCEA (or equivalent) maths and science subject.

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Several past participants have already joined the service to pursue a range of careers including pilot, aircraft technician and air warfare officer.

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