James Aims to Fly High

Thames High School’s Head Boy James Hamilton has his sights set on the skies. He undertook some flight training during the school holidays and wrote about it for New Zealand Aviation News magazine. Here’s his story:

I was just 10 years old when Dad first took me to Warbirds over Wanaka. That exposure to planes and aviators sparked an interest that has now grown into a full commitment to make a career in aviation.

My learning began with Scout Aviation School which I attended when I was 13. Three years seemed like a long time to wait until I was old enough to go to the Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School and take controls of the plane. But by the time I flew my first solo at the 49th school just over a year ago, I was well and truly hooked.

Coming back to the 50th school as a returned student this year was a no-brainer. I had learned so much during my first experience at the Walsh that I wasn’t going to pass up on the opportunity for more. As a returned student I hit the ground running as I knew the place, the people and the drill. I was up in the air on the second day of the school.

While I had done a few hours of flying between the schools, it was the intensity of flying at least a couple of times a day, almost every day, that really allowed me to advance my skills quickly. After a couple of days of consolidation, I was into the advanced skills syllabus, learning a new skill and then taking it solo. I won’t forget the feeling of jelly in my legs after an hour of solo steep turns!

Like the other students, I was very fortunate to have an extremely capable and committed instructor, Murray Miskelly, who skilfully judged where I was at and pushed me while having lots of fun at the same time.

It wasn’t just the flying that made my second year at the Walsh so enjoyable. I loved experiencing again the culture and traditions of the school and the camaraderie with the other students, many of whom I’m sure will be lifelong friends as we head in similar career directions.

Leadership is a key ingredient of aviation and the school gave me the chance to further hone those skills. I enjoyed my experience as an assistant flight leader, especially working alongside my flight leader and a Venturer support team to make sure the school ran smoothly and all students were looked after.

The climax of the school came at the awards night when I received the Charles Todd Memorial Top Returned Student Award ($1000 of flying tuition) and the RNZAF Air Force Experience Prize (one week’s experience with an RNZAF squadron). 

I am very grateful to the many people who make the Walsh Flying School happen. It is one of the greatest opportunities for young people in New Zealand. The school has given me a passion for aviation that I hope will become my career. I look forward to the day that I can return to the Walsh as an experienced aviator and give back to the school that has given
so much to me.

*Thanks to Aviation News for  allowing us to republish the article here. You can read the magazine in the School library or subscribe at www.aviationnews.co.nz