Whanganui teenager Jack Collier is a bona fide "fly boy" after gaining a top place in a national flying competition at just 14.

The Wanganui Collegiate student placed third in the national competition in February and already has 65 hours of flying time under his belt.

His achievements are slightly less surprising when he reveals that he has been a member of the Wanganui Aero Club since he was 9 and has flown Piper Tomahawk, Viper SD-4 as well as Cessna 172 planes.

"I can start sitting my licence when I turn 16 and will be allowed to fly by myself when I'm 17," Jack said.


The interest in flying and aircraft has always been there - and it keeps growing.

Jack said his mother Sian was partly responsible as she trained as a pilot for the Royal Air Force while living in Cyprus.

"She is a midwife and when she was working there she was offered the opportunity for extra study and she chose flying.

"We plan to sit our New Zealand pilot's licence together when I'm old enough."

Jack's placement at the national competition in Ashburton was for preflight, precision, circuits and landings, and his ability gained him third place in the Jean Batten Memorial Trophy.

Flight instructor Wieland Kuhn made the flight from Blenheim to Ashburton for the competition with Jack in a Viper SD-4 and said he enjoyed flying with such an enthusiastic student.

"He is one of 12 young people I work with as a member of the Young Eagles and I really enjoy watching him progress," Mr Kuhn said.

Jack has his sights on a flying career and piloting long-haul flights for a commercial airline appeals.

"I will need to clock up at least 1500 flying hours before I would be eligible to apply for one of those positions."

Flight Training Manawatu's proposed move to Whanganui is a good opportunity for Jack, offering the prospect of being able to train without leaving his home town.

The Feilding-based flight school was purchased by Whanganui District Council Holdings last year, and Collegiate principal Chris Moller said it was a move which was being welcomed by other students.

"We are working with the flight school and looking at a joint initiative for students interested in flying," Mr Moller said. "It is something we could build into the curriculum."