Distinguished visitor salutes Air Training Corps
By Roger Moroney
There was an extra spring in the well-practised young steps of the 11 Squadron (District of Hastings) Air Training Corps cadets yesterday as they paraded in their new headquarters before a very special guest.
Governor-General Lieutenant General Jerry Mataparae GNZM QSO arrived to officially open the new headquarters and drill hall at the Bridge Pa aerodrome in Hastings.
“It has been a lot of work and a lot of fundraising – everyone has done a wonderful job,” the training corps’ Squadron Leader Mike Wills said.
Acting Cadet Unit Commander Flying Officer Kevin Corbett said having the Governor-General arrive to officially open what he called “nearly six years work” was special.
The Governor-General said he was delighted to attend what was a major event in the squadron’s history that “also marks the 150th anniversary of cadet units and the 75th anniversary of this squadron.”
He spoke to the 120 guests about the word ‘serve’ – and how the ‘S’ stood for serving, ‘E’ for excellence, ‘R’ for rangitahi (the young), ‘V’ for voluntary commitment and ‘E’ for excellence. “These cadets tick all those boxes,” he said.
Fundraising and support from the Hastings District Council, Eastern and Central Community Trust and Endeavour Trust among others, saw the Air Training Corps raise nearly $300,000 for their new centre.
Since the 1960s the 11 Squadron Air Training Corps had drilled and operated out of a base at Nelson Park in Hastings, but that came to an end in March 2008 when the park was set for demolition and a revamp into a shopping centre. The unit shifted to the Bridge Pa Airfield and began using a rented classroom and a large storage container while the great fundraising campaign to build a permanent base stepped into gear.
“We wanted to put the air part into the air corps so we looked at the airfield here,” Mr Mills said.
The unit currently has 54 cadets, male and female from 13 to 19 and every last one of them on parade yesterday had clearly taken note of the orders – “cadets must be in uniforms and their dress and bearing must be at the highest standard”.
Photo caption – ATTENTION TO DETAIL: Governor-General Lieutenant General Jerry Mataparae [Mateparae] GNZM QSO inspects 11 Squadron (District of Hastings) Air Training Corps, at Bridge Pa aerodrome yesterday.