You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Three days ago, Rohit Ramesh took the controls of a New Zealand Airline Academy Tecnam P2008 and fulfilled a childhood dream.
The 18-year-old, of Doha, Qatar, said ever since he was a young boy he would watch planes take off and he could tell "by looking at the tail, which plane it was".
This week he became the first student of Oamaru’s new international flight school. In his first three days he racked up nine flights and said flying was "a dream come true".
"It’s amazing," Mr Ramesh said.
"I mean, the mountains on one side, the coast on the other side, the township on the other side. It’s so pretty, it’s so green — it’s beautiful."
The academy’s chief flight instructor, Celroy Mascarenhas, said Mr Ramesh was "absolutely loving it".
"New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries to fly around," he said.
Yesterday, he was taking Mr Ramesh through "touch-and-go practice landings".
"I believe flying is very easy," Mr Mascarenhas said.
"It’s just like learning any other mode of transport. I believe that anyone can learn to fly. Every student learns at a different rate. He [Mr Ramesh] is quite switched on. Some people are just naturals."
A GoPro camera was fitted to the plane to record the students’ take-offs, landings and "special moments". Most students would take 10 to 12 months to earn a commercial licence.
The second student of the flight school arrived yesterday. Last month, the academy was approved by the NZQA through the National Trade Academy, a registered private training establishment based in Christchurch, which subcontracted the flight school to train an initial intake of about 20 trainee pilots.
At the time New Zealand Airline Academy director Jonathan Manuel said the school had received more than 20 applications.