Air cadets to the very core

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Cadets ... From left, Liam Baker, 13, of North Loburn, Bayley Charles, 15, of Rangiora, Jacob Ohs, 14, of Rangiora, Liam Corson, 15, of Oxford, Max Kircher, 14, of Christchurch, and James Walsh, 14, of Rangiora, learn about table etiquette ahead of the No.88 Squadron Rangiora Air Training Corps formal dinner. PHOTO: DAVID HILL

By DAVID HILL

Rangiora’s air cadets have outgrown their buildings.

The No.88 Squadron Air Training Corps (ATC), based at Rangiora Airfield, was only commissioned two years ago and is already one of the largest in the South Island. It has 54 cadets, six officers and under-officers, plus civilian support staff.

The squadron’s executive officer, Flight Lieutenant Carolyn Green, says a new classroom has been bought and moved to the airfield thanks to community support. Now, help is needed for the foundations.

Since the squadron’s inception, the cadets have had use of the Canterbury Aero Club’s rooms and rent the nearby building known as the “White House”. However, these are too small for indoor gatherings.

“It’s standing room only inside when it’s the full unit getting together,” she says.

“We came here specifically to be on an airfield. We want to be where the planes are, which makes it entertaining when we are parading outside in the summer and there’s planes about.”

The Rangiora squadron, which began parading in 2015 before being commissioned, is already making its mark locally, being called to take part in Anzac parades in Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Oxford, Woodend and Sefton this year, and assisting with Poppy Day.

The cadets are also called on for other special events such as Passchendaele Day and Armistice Day in both North Canterbury and Christchurch.

The cadets meet at the Rangiora Airfield on Thursday evenings during term time and there are activities including camps, competitions, sausage sizzles and public events “just about every second weekend”.

“We expect quite a lot from them and we expect high standards of uniform and behaviour,” she says.

As well as aviation, parading and discipline, cadets learn bushcraft, rifle safety, target shooting and first aid, and they can earn NCEA level one credits for their efforts.

“We have quite a strong emphasis on aviation here, but ATC isn’t just about flying, it’s about learning skills to be good citizens and there’s a bunch of things they can learn.

“Many will seriously consider a career in defence, police and the other services, or volunteer at service organisations, and some will stick around cadet forces. Some go on to become teachers because of the skills they learn.” People can follow the 88 Rangiora Squadron ATC on Facebook and Instagram.