Helping the high-fliers of 42 Squadron
Flying training with Otago Aero Club. Warrant Officer Joint and Corporals Monaghan and James are pictured with Squadron Leader Flottman and a fully aerobatic, Italian, Alpi Aviation Pioneer 200 sports aeroplane.
The Civilian Committee of 42 (City of Dunedin) Squadron of the Air Training Corps decided that it would benefit the Unit as a whole if their Air Cadets were “more visible” at training camps, fund-raisers and competitive events. It was considered that personalised tee-shirts and name badges would be a good start, however, when the quotations began to arrive it was decided to approach the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust for assistance. Although fiercely proud of their heritage as previous defenders of New Zealand, and although the Minister for Defence is responsible for the organisation, the Air Training Corps (ATC) is no longer funded by the New Zealand Defence Force and, as a result, the Corps is compelled to obtain financial aid from any legitimate sources.
Would-be fashion models, Corporals Monaghan and James, are the clothes horses displaying the Squadron’s new personalised tee-shirts.
The Unit’s unique badge, featuring the number 42 in Air Force blue, emblazoned with a soaring albatross, is particularly striking.
Warrant Officer Joint receives a briefing prior to take-off from a senior flying instructor.
The Air Training Corps is far more than another youth group. The joining age for potential Air Cadets is 13 and runs to 18 and, because it is a military styled Corps, its members tend to engage in many adventurous activities that other organisations just do not match. There are courses in bush craft, outdoor survival exercises, marching and drill instruction, map reading and aerial navigation courses, weapons and weapons safety training, gliding and flying courses, and a whole lot more. All of these initiatives teach the Cadets skills of a singular nature and teamwork. Being a member of the Corps instils a respect for authority, but there is special emphasis on nurturing individuals toward being the leaders of the future.
The ATC was formed in September 1941 during the chaos of the early part of the Second World War. By this time, it had become obvious that the shortage of trained British and Commonwealth pilots and aircrew was a serious problem, one that if it were not immediately addressed, would become critical as the war progressed. Only a few weeks into 1942, it was even more obvious that New Zealand and Australia were now under a grave and very real threat from the all-conquering armies, and especially the air forces, of Imperial Japan. Many nations and island communities in the Pacific region had already crumbled in the path of Japanese attacks while Great Britain, herself fighting Germany, Italy and now Japan, was in a poor position to help. The Corps’ purpose was to train potential airmen in basic airmanship and to provide an insight into the workings of, and procedures within, the Air Force in order to prepare young men for the RNZAF when they became of age. In the 21st Century such dire threats have, we trust, passed and it is no longer compulsory for Air Cadets to join the RNZAF (or any other military organisation), though quite a few, no doubt having aroused their taste for adventure, still choose to do so.
Each ATC Unit is managed by the Cadet Unit Commander and his or her officers. There are currently forty-nine Air Training Corps Units in New Zealand, with number 42 (City of Dunedin) Squadron being the main outfit in Otago, and all of these Units hold ‘Parade Nights’ (42 Squadron’s being on a Monday from 6:45 pm to 9:00 pm). These open with the raising of the RNZAF ensign; uniforms are inspected, and the cadets are informed of the activities lined up for them during the evening. These might include: instruction on the workings of, and hands-on work with, engines (of all types), airframes, ejector seats, parachutes, how to navigate using a compass, meteorological studies, aircraft instruments – what they measure and how they work, what makes an aircraft actually fly and manoeuvre in air, aircraft recognition, and a myriad of other subjects.
Glider flying instruction is a must for any potential Air Force pilot.
Safety on the range is paramount when several of 42 Squadron’s Air Cadets vie to become their Unit’s ‘Top Gun’.
42 Squadron’s HQ is in Kensington Army Hall, Bridgman Street, South Dunedin, but a wide spectrum of activities take place well away from the Parade Hall. Activities such as rubber dingy/survival in water techniques, how to build a survival shelter (usually from next to nothing (!)), rifle shooting and safety on the range training, working as a team to build a raft for river crossing, as well as the usual gliding and flying courses mentioned previously, are all on the menu.
Such multi-faceted organisations are immensely important to youth development and can be a lifesaver. The Otago Masonic Charitable Trust were pleased to assist 42 (City of Dunedin) Squadron, whose CO thanked us for our efforts and said that, in a small way, the personalised badges and tee-shirts had given the Cadets a renewed sense of “Unit recognition and worth.”
We can’t really ask for more than that.
A group of 42 Squadron’s NCO’s and Air Cadets are featured wearing their Unit’s distinctive
tee-shirts during climbing practise at Dunedin’s challenging Clip ‘n Climb multi-level arena.
NOTE: Readers might be interested in learning that the Air Training Corps are always on the look-out for civilian volunteers and instructors, all are welcome especially people who may have served at some time in the RNZAF, the RAF or in the military in general – so, no matter what your career, if you are fit and available, give them a call: 03 455 3921 or send them an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Air Training Corps are always looking for civilian instructors and volunteers, so if you are interested in working with local youth then visit www.cadetforces.org.nz/atc.html