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Sky is the limit for cousins

Cousins Jordan and Jordon have made their iwi and whānau proud through exceptional achievements in aviation. They talked to reporter Akula Sharma.

Jordan Kean (Ngāti Porou) was the youngest category A flying instructor in New Zealand in 2019.

He is now 27, working for Mainland Aviation College as chief flying instructor and running the operations for flight training.

Mr Kean said his passion for aviation had been “engraved” in him at an early age.

“I have been around aviation since I was a baby really.

“I have always had an interest in it, because my dad was a pilot. I would see him flying which would inspire me to do the same.

“I didn't know anything else.”

Mainland Air's general manager and Mr Kean's mother, Shirley Kean, said Jordan regularly flew with his father to Stewart Island, all around Fiordland, Queenstown, Milford Sound, as well as Otago and Southland in a variety of twin- and single- engine aircraft.

“Although Jordan could fly an aircraft competently at a young age, he had to work hard at his maths to achieve his goal of passing all the theory exams.”

Mr Kean said he hadn't met his cousin, Jordon Tyrell McClutchie, until last year when he visited Dunedin on a holiday.

“I took him for a fly and he enjoyed it. Now, he is here with me doing a pilot licence course.”

Mrs Kean said Jordan worked his way up pretty fast and “is responsible for the safety and training of students”.

“He had 70 students under his care, along with his team of instructors when the first lockdown hit last year.”

Mr Kean said he started his training at the end of 2011.

“I got all my licences by 2013 while working part-time at the airport. I got certified to become a flying instructor in 2016. It took me almost five years to be where I am today.”

Mr Kean said rangatahi Māori needed to give aviation a go.

“Go for a small flight to see if you enjoy it. And that's really the first step.

“If you really want to do it, you can achieve it.”

His cousin Jordon Tyrell McClutchie (Ngāti Porou) is from Hicks Bay.

He is 19 and has been training with Mainland Air since January this year, aiming to get his private pilot's licence (PPL).

Mr McClutchie said he had never thought of flying until he met Jordan in Dunedin.

“I grew up working on a farm and using agricultural machinery all my life. I had worked on Puketoro Station for three or four years.

“I would've probably been farming if it wasn't for my family here (in Dunedin).

“Last year after Covid-19 lockdown ended, my family and I came down for a trip to the South Island and I met Nanny Shirley, Papa Phil and Jordan.

“We went to Mainland Air where Jordan and other instructors took me for a trial flight. It was amazing to be flying around and to see the country from a different perspective.

On his return to the East Coast he couldn't get the idea of flying out of his head.

“Nanny Shirley and Papa Phil asked if I was interested in becoming a pilot and I agreed.

“I was a young East Coast boy giving it a go.”

Mr McClutchie said he wasn't academic, but he had a passion for learning.

“I didn't go to school a lot — it wasn't the biggest thing in my life. As soon as I could, I left school straight away, which was when I was 15.

“Farming was my comfort zone — aviation wasn't. However, since I have chosen this career path, I have discovered my love for it.

“I am now working at Dunedin Airport as a ramp agent, which is great because I get to be a part of the team.”

Mr McClutchie said the East Coast community and his whānau helped him to get where he is.

“My aunty Arlouise Brooking and the wider whānau have done some fundraising (for the training), which I am grateful for.

“We also applied for a couple of grants which we got and Mainland Air helped me kickstart the course.

“Financially it's been very hard because aviation is really costly, so fundraising was a big help.”

Mr McClutchie said it would be good if the Government could fund more rangatahi Māori like himself to be able to pursue their dreams, or at least “give it a go”.

“There are so many of us wanting to be pilots, but because there isn't any financial support, this is why it's been hard for us.

“People at home (East Coast) have done a lot to keep me going, but it would be good to see Government funding for us in aviation.”

Mr McClutchie said Mainland Air suited his hands-on style of learning which is why he loved the course.

“When you come to Mainland you start flying on the first day. It is not just reading a book. It is actually experiencing what is in the book.

“I think a lot of us, especially rangatahi Māori, like a hands-on approach so we can experience learning practically instead of just the theory.

“When I was reading a book I couldn't understand it, but as soon as I went into the plane I could make sense of it.”

Mr McClutchie said he was hoping to pass his PPL in the next couple of weeks so he could become a flight instructor like his cousin Jordan.

“I want to teach rangatahi what I learned and love doing.

“I have plans to come back to the East Coast once I have passed all my exams.

“In future I am thinking of doing top-dressing, where I would fly and farm or I might bring a flying school back to the East Coast!

“The sky is the limit.”

Mr McClutchie's mother Tineke Caroll said she was very proud of Jordon.

“I never thought he would pursue aviation.”

She said there needed to be more schools like Mainland Air, which “look at the passion and not just academics”.

“I am really thankful and grateful for our whānau and wider East Coast community, who have supported him and helped his aviation journey come true.”

Ngāti Porou Aviation Achievers: Jordan Kean (right) taking a flight with his cousin Jordon Tyrell McClutchie in Dunedin. Picture supplied
Flying high: Jordon With his cousin Jordan at Mainland AIr. Picture supplied

  1. Michelle Robb, Sydney says:

    Awesome. That’s a very inspiring young man. I agree with him about the lack of funding from anywhere. I’ve always wanted to be a pilot myself, went for a test flight 🛫 only to be hit by astronomical prices, so I had to abandon my dream… How blessed is Jordan to have a community support and get behind him.