Instructor's career takes off

HIGH FLYER: Leon Hunter, aged 20, is the South Canterbury Aero Club’s new instructor.
HIGH FLYER: Leon Hunter, aged 20, is the South Canterbury Aero Club’s new instructor.

Timaru's Leon Hunter is only 20, but already he is flying high.

The former Roncalli College student is the new instructor for the South Canterbury Aero Club.

He takes over from Sharn Davies, who recently became chief flight instructor (CFI) for the Marlborough Aero Club.

When Mr Davies was appointed as South Canterbury Aero Club's CFI in 2008, he was the youngest CFI in the country.

"The South Canterbury club must be used to young instructors by now. So far, none of the older guys have given me any stick about it," Mr Hunter said.

"You offer something a bit different for everyone who learns with you. Some people freeze, others just take to it. Most of all, you want to make sure they enjoy it enough to come back."

Mr Hunter has had a keen interest in flying since a young age - rather than complete year 13 at Roncalli College, he chose to take an 18-month course at Nelson Aviation College at Motueka.

"I learned more during [the course] than anywhere else in my life, it was so challenging ... but the hardest part wasn't the flying but the paperwork and exams."

Last year, he worked part-time as a flight instructor at the North Otago Aero Club in Oamaru.

He enjoyed the experience, but admitted it was a challenge juggling his other "part-time" jobs at DB Breweries and Briscoes in Timaru.

His new role would be fulltime.

The South Canterbury club, which has about 100 members, owns two Piper Tomahawk (two-seater) planes, and a four-seater Piper Archer.

"There's nothing quite like being up in the air," he said.

"Being young in this role gives you lots of time - it's a high ladder to climb if you want to go up the ranks. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

The Timaru Herald