Wannabe fly boys and girls have an opportunity clock up some hours in the air with a scholarship from the Wanganui Aero Club.

The $1500 scholarship, made possible by long standing club member Ted Lockwood,will give the successful applicant enough flying lessons to get them well on the way to a first solo flight.

Applicants must be aged from 15 to 25 so this reporter is ineligible but thanks to the Aero Club, I can offer first-hand insight into the experience of flying over Whanganui.

When offered the opportunity to take a flight in one of the club's Cessna 172 planes, I did not imagine that I would be allowed to fly it.


Flight instructor Sebastian Chatterley introduced me to the aircraft, explained its aerodynamics and gave me a run-down of the controls before we climbed aboard.

As I thought I would be playing a passive role in the expedition, I confess to being less attentive than I should have been.

Sebastian had my full attention however when he said "You will have a turn at the controls."

I'm sure I heard a gasp from photographer Stuart Munro who was to be a passenger.

I was instructed to use the foot controls to taxi the plane along the runway and it was difficult to keep my hands away from the controls.

"It's much easier for young students who have never driven a car," said Sebastian.
"They don't have that habit of using hands and feet at the same time."

He instructed me to pull the hand control gently towards me and "Hey presto" we were airborne.

The Cessna obeyed the gentlest of commands and we flew on up to Kai Iwi Beach where I brought her round and back to town, then over the city before Sebastian took over the controls to land us safely.

If you meet the age requirement, and flying appeals to you - apply for this scholarship.
I certainly would if I was you.

There are a few conditions like parental approval if you are under 18, you will be required to take a trial flight (like the one I took) at a cost of $59 and you will need to write an essay.

The essay should aim to cover your interest in flying and flying lessons and why you think you are suitable for the scholarship.

Aero Club committee member Leroy Johnston said the preference is for applicants to head along to the club in Airport Road to collect an entry form so you can check out the premises and planes.

Entries close on December 23 and the winner will be announced within the first week of February 2017.

Leroy says he took his own first flight two years ago and now has his private pilot's licence.

"I am now aiming to get my commercial licence and I just love flying," he says.

I know how he feels and I think this anonymous quote from the Aero Club's website pretty much sums it up.

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

To learn more about the Wanganui Aero Club and the Ted Lockwood scholarship, visit www.wanganuiaeroclub.co.nz