Air Cadets Train as Pilots in Steinbach

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By Marianne Curtis / August 2003

Fifteen young women are training to receive their private pilot’s licenses at a Steinbach training school as part of their experience with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. This is the second year that Harv’s Air Service in Steinbach has been chosen by the Department of National Defence and the Air Transportation Association of Canada to host the cadets.

All of the young women, who come from Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, say that this experience has been memorable: From first arriving in a community that some admit they have never heard of before, to taking to the skies for the first time.

The group arrived at Harv’s Air on June 29, with the classes beginning the next day. While we were all celebrating Canada Day, the group was divided into tow and their flying began. Since then, they have spent a month in the classroom or “ground school” and at the time of this interview most of the girls were still waiting to take to the air in their first solo cross country flights.

“A cross country flight means that we have to take off from here, fly to and land in two airports and then fly back here,” explained Whitney Fox. It was also noted that the cadets must maintain ground visibility during the flight so weather conditions must be favourable. Prior to solo flights, many hours are spent in the classroom studying navigation and meteorology, as well as learning their instruments.

The girls laugh as they share stories of “forced landings, fake stalls, not being able to find the Rosenort airstrip, and practical jokes played on their instructors. But most of all, they share a love of flying.

“This has been quite an experience—other kids will be going back o school, talking about what they did over the summer and I will be going into school saying I got my pilot’s license,” boasted Angela Comer.

When asked why the girls chose Air Cadets, they all replied, “Because we wanted to fly”. Ultimately, several answered that they wanted to achieve the goal of “being paid to fly” and plan on carrying their new talents as far as they can go.

There are two other groups of Air Cadets, all boys, taking the classes in different parts of the country. Chelsea Stephenson added that she thinks the girls got the “better end of the deal” with the best location and instructors for the three groups.

A special ceremony is taking place at Harv’s Air Service on August 14 at 7 p.m., when the young ladies will be showing off their new flying wings.

Air Cadets is just one section of Cadets Canada, which is the largest federally sponsored youth program in Canada. It is a national program for young Canadians, ages 12 to 18, who are interested in participating in a variety of challenging and rewarding activities, and learning more about the Canadian Forces.

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