Aspeq news

Young pilot’s career off to a flying start

Oct 30, 2023

16-year old Leon Fenemor may not be old enough to vote or drive, but he can fly an aeroplane thanks in part to support from Aspeq through the Young Eagles programme.

Leon is one of the recipients of this year’s Young Eagles’ 2023 Ross Macpherson Memorial Scholarship, which Aspeq helps sponsor. Each year, the scholarship supports young Kiwis to advance their careers in pilot training.

After working hard to get certified to fly without an instructor, Leon took his first solo flight on the day of his 16th birthday this September.

He says it was an amazing and surreal experience: “Each time I saw the empty seat to my right it sunk in that I was the only person in charge of the aircraft. I had looked forward to this moment for years so I was very happy that I got to go solo on my birthday.”

Leon worked at MacDonald’s after school to save up for the necessary exams and flying lessons, and he says the scholarship helped get him up in the air faster.

“This scholarship has given me a great head start to my flying. It’s given me more time to work and save up for the remainder of my PPL [Private Pilot Licence] exams.”

As well as sponsoring the Young Eagles programme, Aspeq delivers the exams and assessments Leon and other aspiring pilots need to undertake to become qualified to fly.

Leon plans to get his full PPL, which would allow him to fly himself as well as friends and family around New Zealand, in time for his 17th birthday. By 18, he intends to gain his Commercial Pilot Licence and then work his way up to becoming an airline captain.

Aspeq CE Hamish Findlay says it’s rewarding to help Leon and other aspiring young pilots realise their dreams: “We’re proud to grow a passion for flying among the next generation of aviators through our work with the Young Eagles programme.

“It’s not easy to become a pilot - it takes a lot of dedication and hard work - so hats off to Leon on this incredible achievement!”

To date, Aspeq has helped fund hundreds of hours of flight time for rangatahi across New Zealand through its support for Young Eagles.

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