Spread Your Wings

Story and Photos by Will Oades

Throughout high school, I thought I knew what I wanted to be: an engineer. Approaching my final year of schooling, I realized that I hadn’t considered other options. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to fly in a Cessna airplane with Confederation College’s aviation program that I realized I hadn’t spread my wings and considered other careers.

The ACE (Aviation Centre of Excellence) is the aviation program headquarters which is located across from the Thunder Bay International Airport. Upon entering the building, the ACE is similar to any regular school. It is equipped with classrooms, a computer lab and a lounge.

Ready for take off

Ready for take off

However, what sets this school apart is the state of the art simulators. The ACE is winged with two simulators that allow students to practice flying without leaving the ground, providing students an alternative to practice, regardless of the weather.

The aviation program is one of a kind. It allows students to get the required amount of airtime for their private and commercial pilot’s licence at an affordable cost in nearly half the time of competitive programs. Contrary to these programs where only a set amount of students move on, students who have the required flight hours and passing grades move on to the next semester. This creates opportunity for more students to proceed with their schooling, and get their license.

Silver Islet

Silver Islet

The environment in the school is friendly and cooperative. The College has friendly teaching staff who are willing to help bring up your grades if you are inclined to do so. For Ryan Kelly, the program coordinator, the best part of the program is “working together with others to achieve a common goal.” The other appeal is “doing something that humans weren’t made to do, going against Mother Nature, and you get up there and it’s like, ‘Wow! This is cool.’”

As I went up in a Cessna with one of the teaching staff, I thought the same thing. The wind was strong and it was as if we were on a roller coaster ride. I thought like Ryan Kelly how cool it would be to spread my wings.