Steinbach flight school honours Air Cadet grads
The Carillon News / by Michelle LaBelle
A little pomp and circumstance along with the political brass and some sharply dressed, impressive young men were all on full display at a flight school graduation ceremony Thursday night.
The marching graduates saw Provencher MP Vic Toews, Steinbach MLA Jim Penner and Steinbach Mayor Les Magnusson supporting them, along with about 100 people, consisting of family and friends.
It may be surprising to some when they find out that these 16 graduates all members of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets had to compete with more than 500 other cadets for the opportunity to come to Steinbach. However, coming to the city meant the opportunity to get licensed to soar the friendly skies an opportunity of a lifetime for the cadets.
“It’s so incredible, it’s such a rush, it’s always exciting, it’s everything good,” gushed Air Cadet Kit Brink when describing how he felt controlling a plane up in the sky.
Brink, an outgoing Albertan also referred to as “Maverick” by his 15 other cadet comrades, said he thoroughly enjoyed his time becoming a pilot at Harv’s Air Service.
“There were a lot of things we had to do even before coming here, we were put through a selection board…we wrote a bunch of tests and exams about military knowledge, flight knowledge, and current events,” Brink told The Carillon in an interview after his graduation.
He mused that the entrance requirements were probably so strict to prepare them for the days to come at Harv’s; those days consisted of an intensive three and a half week ground school portion, where they were preparing to write their Transport Canada exam, other types of ground school classes, and approximately 50 hours of in-flight time logged.
This all added up to six or seven days a week of work for seven weeks straight. The cadet’s days began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at anywhere between 5 to 9 p.m.
One of the Air Cadets’ flight instructors, Harv’s employee Al Auton, heavily emphasized what kind of dedication it took for the young men to complete their program.
“I think it was so great to see the way everything was integrated, the way it all jigged together in the end,” noted Auton.
The instructor added that it was amazing to see them all progress at the same rate, with very little discrepancy among them; most finished with marks in the 90 percentile.
“These are wonderful boys,” he pronounced.
Although things were intense and busy, the Air Cadets didn’t complain once even when they were flooded out of their living quarters at the Steinbach Bible College basement in early July. There precious little downtime was spent enjoying the cooking of Donelda Friesen at the college, going out for supper to local restaurants, or just hanging out and watching movies, Brink noted.
Adam Penner, operations manager at the airport said just landing the contract that gave them the rights to host the cadets was quite a coup.
“For the longest time we were encouraged by military and cadet officials to go for it, but we didn’t have the resources for it…until this year.”
Those additional resources needed included more planes and classroom space. So after they purchased 2 more planes in the spring and did some extensive renovations, Harv’s Air was almost ready to apply.
“Oh, there was a 20-page application,” Penner laughed. But once the lengthy, detailed proposal was finished, the airport soon received a visit from some top guns at the Department of National Defence.
One month later, he received a call. They were accepted!
Penner added it was such a rewarding experience for everyone involved, including all the Harv’s Air staff, that they were ready to do it all over again next year.
Most of the cadets plan to continue a career in commercial aviation; some may even join the Canadian Air Force.
For more information about the Air Cadets visit aircadets