Adventure in the air

For some, that jumbo jet soaring high above the ground symbolizes travel, excitement and adventure. But for others it signals the start of an equally thrilling career as a commercial pilot.<br />

 

Look up in the sky. Look past the birds, around the clouds and you might just see it.

 

For
some, that jumbo jet soaring high above the ground symbolizes travel,
excitement and adventure. But for others it signals the start of an
equally thrilling career as a commercial pilot.

 

“There’s tons
of romanticism behind it, but above all, it’s a really good job,” says
David Huber, the chief flight instructor for Canadian Flyers. “It’s
about a love of flying.”

 

The Canadian Flyers’ commercial pilot
licence program gives students 40 hours of ground instruction and more
than 200 hours of training in the cockpit. They also operate out of
three airports: Markham, Lake Simcoe, and Toronto City Centre. Before
enrolling, however, students must complete the school’s private pilot
licence program.

Huber says that journey to become a commercial pilot was more rigourous than even he expected upon entering the industry.

“It
was a misconception to me as well when I first started,” he says. “But
you get put through the hoops and hurdles to get into the airline
industry.”

Some of those hoops and hurdles include juggling large
amounts of homework, passing Transport Canada-certified flight
examinations, and successfully completing a health test officiated by a
Transport Canada medical examiner.

“You’re constantly being trained and constantly being tested because it is the industry standard,” says Huber.

Norma
Columbus is the program co-ordinator for technology continuing
education and training at Seneca College. She helps oversee the
school’s part-time aviation certificate program, which is offered as
part of its continuing education repertoire.

“Not everyone has
that much time to devote to their education,” says Columbus, who adds
that many of the program’s students are working outside the classroom.
“Keeping in mind with the theme of lifelong learning, this program can
help give students what they need.”

This program, intended for
aspiring commercial pilots, is also a joint venture with Toronto
Airways. The former provides in-class training while the latter
organizes in-air practice at Buttonville Airport.

Columbus admits
the price tag attached to commercial aviation studies is hefty. Some
programs can run between $50,000 and $60,000. That means students who
enrol must be committed both from a financial standpoint and from an
educational one.

“There have to be good study skills because
the exams are quite arduous,” she says. “It’s a very structured and
high-discipline profession because of the safety aspect. It’s not
something where you just put your bum in the seat.”

 
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