Secondary school students from around the North Island visited Whanganui yesterday to have a look around the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy
Academy administrator Jess Power said they had around 60 guests on-site as part of a careers open day, and academy cadets were on hand to help show the visitors around.
"When we first opened we used to go out to all the schools and do presentations, then so many schools were interested that it was easier for them to come here and see what we've got to offer," Power said.
"We send the invitation out to all secondary schools in the North Island, and we've got Years 9s to 13s here today.
"If schools aren't available for this day they can just contact us and we can organise a one-off tour for them. Anyone can come at any time and have a look around."
The students had the chance to inspect and sit in the academy's planes, use their flight simulators and listen to a talk from the academy's pastoral care officer Tracy Bedford.
The winner of the academy's annual paper plane competition would be given a free flight above Whanganui.
"It's also a chance for them to find out what they need to study to be able to get into aviation," Power said.
"You need to have NCEA Level 2, and maths and physics is a definite help.
"They'll need a passion for aviation too, obviously."
Some secondary school students had started flying before they even reached the academy, and arrived to study with their private pilot's licence already under their belts, Power said.
"You can go solo in a plane when you're 16."
Power said the academy had a "good mix of people" coming on board for their new intake on July 5 and, despite the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, a career in aviation was still a promising undertaking.
"With aviation, you're not just going to study for six months and start looking for a job.
"There are two years of study and you need to build your flying hours.
"It's forecast that there is going to be a big shortfall of pilots in the future, so now is really the time to get into aviation because they are wanting young, fit people to be involved."
Academy chief executive Phill Bedford was "actively working" on getting overseas students into New Zealand, Power said.
"We've still got 70-plus students and things are ticking along very well at the moment."