Cadets gather for exercise

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 27/01/2014

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Hundreds of defence force cadets have descended on Manawatu for a week of military manoeuvres.

A week-long exercise, which started on Friday, has cadets travelling the lower North Island trying a range of soldierly activities, including flying, tramping, sailing, shooting and medical evacuation scenarios.

In the past three days more than 350 cadets passed through Ohakea Air Force Base and Feilding Aerodrome for their air elective, which included a visit to the helicopter hangars, a flight simulator and a sneak peak at squadron headquarters on base.

Yesterday young cadets went for an in-air jaunt with air force commissioned officers in a Cessna 172 - a four-seat, single-engine, high-wing fixed-wing aircraft.

The 50-minute flight had the cadets soaring south of Palmerston North, towards the Te Apiti Wind Farm and back over Feilding.

First-time light aircraft flyer Jeanil Lopez, 15, from Auckland, said: "The first time I went flying it was in a Boeing and when I hit turbulence I got panicky, but this was much better and once we were up there I was amazed with the views," she said.

Jeanil followed her father's footsteps into the armed forces.

"My dad was in the Philippine Army. He had all this army gear lying around so I just played a lot of shooting games and really took an interest to it," she said.

"Being a cadet is so interesting. You never get bored and you learn new things every day."

The cadets are passing through town as part of a pilgrimage to Waiouru for the 150-year celebrations.

On Wednesday more than 3000 cadets from around the country, and a few from Canada and Australia, will parade as a tribute in the defence force youth tradition.

Air elective commanding officer Mike White said the sheer size of the exercise was a first for cadets.

"The best part of this exercise is the scale and being able to participate in something so big.

"The friendships they make this week are also one thing they'll carry through over the years."

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- Manawatu Standard

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