Programme Speaker: John Hamilton. The Walsh Memorial Flying school. 

He was introduced by Mary Redington, who spoke of John’s illustrious flying career, which included 35 years in the NZ Airforce, where he attained the role of Air Vice Marshall. He had received a Queen’s honour as Companion of NZ Order of Merit as Chief of Airforce. One of his roles in retirement was Christchurch Earthquake National Coordinator. 
John spoke about the annual two week Scout Flying School, which has been running for 54 years.  
John is currently Operations Manager of Air Napier which operates out of the Napier Airport.
He school gives 16-19 year old youth the opportunity to fly solo after the two week camp, along with a raft of leadership and team opportunities during the camp. The camp is held at the Matamata Airfield.
70 students take part each year. 46 are new students and the rest are returning students who come to support the newcomers. There are 14 aircraft, 25 instructors and 25 other adults who also provide assistance. The students are housed in single tents on the adjacent Matamata Camping ground. Camping is a new experience for many and being with so many other people is also a novel experience for many. About 50/50 male/female, and 3-4 students to each instructor. The instructors are top-notch, many are Air NZ Pilots released by the company as part of the company’s support of the flying school.
The school is also well supported by Airways in their capacity of control tower facilities, the Met Service provides lectures on weather. The Airforce provides crash rescue facilities and waive medical fees. Air Bay of Plenty provides aviation fuel discounts. It costs $2000.00 per student and Newmarket Rotary provide three places as scholarships. This course is not for the faint-hearted many do not have driving licences and the aim is for them to fly solo!. Every flight is preceded by theory, individual tuition, a mini briefing in the aircraft and a debrief. Part of the debrief are comments in each student’s ‘book’ from the instructor.
The training is quite tiring and edgy. There are visitors to the camp such as the Black Falcon Acrobat team; two pilots had attended the Walsh Flying school as youths. Free rides are provided by the Tiger Club from Ardmore and private owners and instructors bring their planes for free rides. The students go solo after 7-8 hours of flying.
There is a formal prize-giving and dinner at the end which is a long, serious affair. There are many presentations of prizes and certificates. The prizes were presented this year by Captain Angela Nolan who flies a Dash Aircraft and is the first Maori, female pilot. There is a $10,000 flying scholarship prize which is used to get a Private Pilot Licence which is a prerequisite before the student can attain a student loan to do the commercial pilot training. The top prize this year went to Odette Sullivan Yates who was rated for her flying, her academic strengths and her character attributes.
Questions followed which elicited further information such as the planes used are Cessna High Wing and low wing Pipers which are the planes used in most aero clubs. There is a Careers night held where the students are informed about a variety of careers in aviation. Of the 46 that participated this year only six were unsuccessful in flying solo. John Reid thanked the speaker.