Timaru Girls High School students Kristie Goodsir and Jessica Davidson have spent the first week of school holidays getting a taste of all things aviation at School to Skies, a week-long intensive camp for Year 13 girls at Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Auckland.
School to Skies is a technical and aviation focussed experience for 38 young women. It provides a unique introduction and exposure to, hands-on learning where participants get to fix real aircraft, fly a simulator, plan a flying mission and build electronic components.
For Jessica, School to Skies provided her with a taste of the type of career she is thinking about when she finishes school.
“I’ve always been interested in engineering and aviation and aspired to go down this career path. Attending the camp helped put my ambitions into reality while also showing me there is more to the Air Force than just being a pilot. A lot happens behind the scenes to get aircraft ready to fly,” said Jessica.
Kristie applied to School to Skies because she wanted to explore career possibilities in the Air Force that used science and maths.
“I think it is refreshing to be able to see how the things we learn at school can apply to real-life jobs. So this programme was the perfect opportunity for me to look beyond the common science careers that occupy the spotlight and look towards more exciting, rewarding ones that are unheard of,” Kristie said.
“It was also an opportunity for me to push myself and experience new things I never thought I would get a chance to. Whenever I have these kinds of opportunities, I give everything a go as a sort of rule to myself, so I don’t regret it later.”
This is the fourth year the RNZAF has run its School to Skies programme. The programme is open to female Year 13 students who are taking a Level 3 NCEA (or equivalent) maths and science subject. Several past participants have already joined the service to pursue a range of careers including pilot, aircraft technician and air warfare officer.
“A lot of the values I see in myself, like being motivated and trying your best even if you aren’t naturally good at something straight away, were talked about during the camp and we did leadership training which helped give people confidence they could succeed in the Air Force.”
Most of the girls who attend School to Skies have an interest in engineering and science or are considering a career in the New Zealand Defence Force. The camp brings together both of these elements and exposes the participants to the breadth of different careers and opportunities available to them in the RNZAF.