'I want to be a pilot' - Air Force hopes to inspire next generation of female recruits

The Air Force is on a mission to attract more women to its ranks by holding one of its biggest female-only recruitment drives.

Forty-eight secondary school students are spending a week of their holidays at Ohakea Air Base at an all expenses paid camp.

The year 13 girls have been learning about aircraft, and mechanical work, and they have spent time flying helicopters in a simulator.

Akesa Waitai-Ifopo’s school paid for her flights down from Kaitaia and she says the experience is a dream come true.

“I want to be a pilot so I was enjoying playing with the controls… having that fun and getting the gist of what it would be like in the future,” she says.

One camp organiser, George Magdalinos, was inspired by her own experience of being the only female in her class 20 years ago.

“I think it’s the isolation factor and for girls especially, you can’t be what you can’t see,” she said.

Currently fewer than 20 per cent of the Air Force is female, with a goal of a quarter by 2025.

However there are still barriers to overcome.

“[Girls] are worried about the requirement to be masculine, the requirement to be supreme athletes… and there are a few misconceptions that we’re breaking down,” George Magdalinos says.

- By 1 NEWS reporter Mei Heron

Ohakea will be home to 48 students for a week, who are learning about aircraft, mechanical work, and handling helicopters in a simulator. Source: 1 NEWS