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On Thursday, Aug. 13, Eagle’s Wings Flight School (EWFS) commemorated the graduation of its inaugural class of student pilots. Six Indigenous youth from across Southern Manitoba were selected for an intensive 16-day summer flight training program which consisted of three days of aviation ground school, cultural awareness sessions hosted by Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services, and 12 hours of individual airborne instruction per student.
After four months off from school, the students hit the books and spent time studying topics such as theory of flight, weather, navigation, and radio communications before they took their first flights. In the flying phase the weather co-operated, and each student flew 12 hours over the course of 12 days. The young pilots were taught takeoffs, landings, stalls, and emergency handling in an Allegro 2000 Advanced Ultralight aircraft.
‘This program was more than I’d hoped or expected. I didn’t think I would get as much time in the air, but we flew every day. I liked planning and flying my three-hour cross country trip back home, that was awesome,” said Cayden Chaske, an 18 year old participant from Canupawakpa First Nation.
The accomplishments of the student pilots were well celebrated at a small gathering where families and flight instructors came together to commemorate the dedication and hard work of six incredible young people over the course of the last couple of weeks as they flew daily out of Southport.
EWFS is a not-for-profit organization that relies solely on volunteers to maintain the ultralight aircraft as well as instruct, drive and supervise students throughout the program. The cost of this year’s flight training was offset by several generous sponsors who share the desire to inspire at-risk youth to explore their innate gifts, build self confidence, and develop practical life skills through aviation training.