When flying gets edgy

Josh Smith – flying instructor at Tauranga Aero Club gets ready for the upcoming Flying New Zealand National Championships.

Squadrons of light aircraft, including between 150 and 160 pilots and their entourages will descend on Tauranga next week. And it will be quite an event.

It’s the week-long Flying New Zealand National Championships being hosted by the Tauranga Aero Club at Tauranga Airport and starting next Wednesday.

The championship features top sports flyers from 44 New Zealand aero clubs that offer flight training and supervision.

Chief flying judge and Tauranga Aero Club chief flying instructor, James Churchward says Tauranga should seize the moment.

“Come and have a look from several vantage points around the clubrooms. And if you are inspired to have a go at flying, we can organise a trial flight for you.”

The week-long festival of competitive sports flying includes formation flying, forced landings, precision landings, navigation and life raft dropping events. A highlight will be the trans-Tasman Wings International Trophy. New Zealand currently holds the trophy from Australia.

A popular event will be the aerobatics to be held on Thursday afternoon followed by the life raft dropping on Friday afternoon. That involves a pilot and crew dropping a simulated life raft onto targets on the ground. It’s a skill which may be called on in a real-life situation one day.

Young Eagles – a scheme designed to introduce young people to flying whether as a hobby or a career – will be drawn into the championships.

The Young Eagles group has a busy programme of airfield visits, flying and helping with competitions.