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Source: Massey University

Jonathan Blood, Logan Keats, Krittamet Chiewvatsagonchai and Kiera Vickery at the recent Wings ceremony. (Image credit Jordan Williams)

The ceremony takes place as each cohort completes the flight-training component of the Bachelor of Aviation degree and for most receiving their commercial pilot’s licence or “wings” is as significant to them as graduating.

Four students also walked away from the event as successful recipients after receiving academic awards.

The event was held on a smaller scale with just students and staff attending after COVID-19 gathering restrictions meant family and friends were unable to attend.

The CEO of the School of Aviation, Ashok Poduval says “although the Covid pandemic prevented us from holding a formal function with friends, family and whanau present, we are pleased that we were able to conduct an in-house ceremony attended by the flight instructors, lecturers and other staff members of the School of Aviation.”

The ceremony was streamed online live using Microsoft Teams. A link was provided to family members enabling the students to share their success with loved ones and supporters. 

Three-time successful recipient Jonathan Blood was awarded for his exemplary examination results and his interest in maintenance procedures and operation systems by receiving the Airways Corporation Academic Award, the Fieldair Engineering Aviation Systems Award and the Hugh Francis Navigation Award.

“It was such an honour to win those awards. I had put a lot of hard work in over the last two years, so it was nice to be recognised for that. The money that came with the Fieldair award has helped a great deal in covering the costs of my degree that haven’t been covered by my student loan,” Mr Blood says.

His motivation to study to get good grades while juggling other factors in life has come from three major pillars; A good routine involving study, the gym, eating and sleeping, having a good support network and his unwavering passion for aviation.

“The whole degree has been a roller coaster with many highs and lows. Having awesome instructors and classmates to go through it all with has been an awesome experience. The ability to see New Zealand in a new way has by far been the coolest part of the last three years, especially being able to fly up to North Shore where I was born and raised” he says. 

Despite COVID-19 impacting the aviation industry, Mr Blood believes it is an industry that is very resilient and will recover.

For now, he focusing his studies to Massey’s flight instructor course and hopes one day he will be a training captain on a wide body jet.

Another passionate recipient who hopes to one day teach others the joy of flying and help people to be the most professional pilot they can be is Logan Keats.

Mr Keats was awarded the Air New Zealand Flying Award for his excellence in the field of aircraft operations and for demonstrating a very high standard in all flight test examinations.

“Throughout my time at Massey I have taken a real appreciation to safe and efficient aircraft operations. I have done a lot of reading and research into this topic going beyond the scope of the BAv ATP curriculum as it is something that I have a true passion for. For this reason, I was extremely honoured to receive this award, I feel it really represents me and what I believe in as a pilot. This award has given me further motivation to pursue research on the topic of aircraft operations throughout my career.”

He says one of the highlights while studying has been the times that he and his fellow cohort members have taken a few aircraft and flown to New Plymouth, Tauranga or Taupo and stopped for lunch at the airport’s café.

“Sharing the joys of flying with like-minded friends will never get old.”

The recipient of the Massey University School of Aviation Outstanding Student Award, Kiera Vickey says it was an honour to receive the award. She also shares a passion for wanting to teach others how to fly and is joining several of her fellow cohort by studying the Massey Flight Instructor course.

“I’m looking forward to teaching new students the skills I have learned throughout the degree and sharing with them my passion for flying. I believe instructing will allow me to challenge myself and to continually develop my own knowledge and skills which will keep me engaged in my profession. Furthermore, I am excited by the continuous diversity of being a flight instructor, like being able to teach different students, in different weather, across the country, and to achieve different goals.”

“Receiving our ‘Wings’ has recognised our performance in academic and practical aspects, but this award has also been a reminder of the importance of leadership and communication skills in becoming an aviation professional as I move forward my career.”

Miss Vickery had several options about her future when she left school but she wanted to complete a highly practical course and also gain a degree; the Bachelor of Aviation offered both.

She says finding the motivation to study for the practical aspects is not difficult as she enjoys it a lot and if she is looking for motivation on the academic work she is driven by being able to use the highly relevant knowledge and skills that she is learning in the classroom practical either in flight or in the simulators.

International student, Krittamet Chiewvatsagonchai, recipient of the Palmerston North Airport-Professional Attributes Award says it is such an honour to receive the award. It means a lot to him because before starting the course he did not believe he would be able to succeed and make his parents proud but the award shows his determination to always work hard has finally paid off.

“My biggest source of motivation is from my parents. I saw my parent working very hard every day just so I can have enough funds to pursue my dream which is to become a pilot. This degree costs a lot of money and they sacrificed everything for me and I cannot thank them enough, therefore, the only thing I could do to repay them is to try my best and work hard so that I can make them proud.”

He said the course is full of competitive people and students who want to be at the top of the class and this is a reason why he has been able to maintain a good attitude and determination throughout.

“I see the importance of enjoying the journey and making memories with friends and instructors rather than concentrating on beating everyone to be the top in class. Also, because regardless of the outcome, I always just wanted to focus on doing everything to my best ability.”