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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 18, No. 10. July 15, 1954


When the powerful German Luftwaffe began its merciless onslaught of Britain soon after the start of the Second World War, a small band of R.A.F. pilots, knowing full well that they might be outnumbered by as many as five to one, flew their aircraft into the skies to meet the enemy. That these pilots held, then mastered and finally conquered such a strong opponent speaks volumes for their character and courage. More important still, their Herculean efforts ensured our way of life.

A large proportion of those pilots who served in the early days with R.A.F. Fighter Command were university students. In peace they had Joined a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron which was usually identified with their university. When war was declared, university squadrons were mobilised almost immediately. Students who had trained as pilots in the balmy days of peace became part of Britain's first line of defense.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force is perpetuating the spirit of those university students, for it now has its own university pilot training scheme. The first products of this scheme. 13 students (8 full-time, 5 part-time) from New Zealand's universities, were recently awarded their flying badges after a course occupying vacation breaks over two years.

Needless to say, the purpose of this article is to explain and to interest students in this scheme. The proper use of modern aircraft and their equipment requires a high standard of intelligence, and the university should be among the best, if not the best, source of supply for the pilots and officers the nation needs.

Professor H. J. Hopkins, Professor of Civil Engineering at Canterbury University College, who presented "wings" to the 13 students, made some pertinent comment when he told the successful students how they could play their part as pilots and officers of the R.N.Z.A.F. "The Air Force relies on team work which requires good leadership and good discipline," he said. "In this respect I believe the university man can play an important part. At the university you have learned lo exercise your minds; in the Air Force you have learned to discipline them. Cheerful obedience of orders can only be attained by unquestioning acceptance of them. This in turn demands that those issuing the orders should make sure that they are reasonable and sound. You have therefore the qualities of mind which will make you good officers, and it is as officers as well as pilots that you graduate today."