The end of each year in New Zealand sees young glider pilots, experienced instructors, and gliding enthusiasts come together in the South Island town of Omarama (widely recognised as one of the world’s top gliding locations) for the Youth Soaring Development Camp, hosted by Youth Glide New Zealand.
Youth Glide’s mission — and the goal of the camp — is to support young people and to equip them with the training and tools necessary to become successful glider pilots. At Spidertracks, we think that’s a pretty admirable mission, which is why we sponsored a $500 prize for Safest Pilot back in December at the 2018 camp.
Our winner? Eighteen-year-old Napier native Josh Ferguson, who’s been piloting gliders for three years now.
‘I’ve wanted to become a professional pilot since I first left the ground in 2015,’ says Josh. ‘I’ve been to the YGNZ camp twice now and have definitely learned to put myself out there. In doing so, I’ve met a number of great people from all around New Zealand, and I’ve made a wide range of valuable friends and contacts, young and old.’
It’s this range of like-minded folk that Josh will continue to expand over the next year, as he puts the $500 in prize money from Spidertracks to work on taking him to the next level in his flying career. A recent graduate, Josh has entered the professional world full-time and has decided to channel his income into his passion for flying.
‘When I found out Spidertracks were generous enough to award me $500 toward my flying fees, I was absolutely stoked,’ he tells us. ‘The extra money means I can afford to carry on my training to become a Qualified Glider Pilot, as well as keeping up progress in my future career and personal life.’
As for what he did to win the prize down in Omarama? It all came down to lending a helping hand whenever he could and keeping his safety training top of mind.
‘A key thing I’ve learned is that in gliding, you need to be consciously aware of your surroundings so you can keep your options open if something doesn’t go quite to plan,’ Josh notes. ‘So for example, when you’re flying on a ridge with other aircraft, give everyone the space they need so they, too, can keep their options open. Then everyone can fly comfortably.’
Alongside an excellent attitude and a desire to help his fellow pilots, safety tips and techniques like this propelled Josh to the top of the pack and to the Spidertracks jackpot. So what does he have planned for his bright future in aviation?
‘After my training, I plan on becoming an airline pilot. Spidertracks is helping me gain more experience in aviation than I’d originally planned, to which I say a massive thank you!’