Earning their wings

Colin MacLean
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Maritime cadets flock to Debert for flying program

Earning their wings

DEBERT - Nicholas Dyke loves the sensations he gets while soaring across the skyline in a glider.
"It's just the feeling of being up in the air ... being able to see what you can see," said the 17-year-old Burnside resident.
Dyke is one of almost 50 Royal Canadian Air Cadets who recently completed their education in glider piloting at the regional training facility in Debert. Kids from all over Atlantic Canada descend on the Truro Flying Club for six weeks every summer to earn their wings. And with Dyke being the last to take his flying test, another successful season has been achieved.
The cadets who earn a seat in the flying program are among the best and brightest the Maritimes has to offer. Each one has to pass rigorous interviews and tests before they are even admitted to the program. Then the real work of learning how to fly begins, said Captain Doug Keirstead.
Cadets work over the summer, spending most days split between being in the classroom and in the air. When they are finally presented with their wings and become certified glider pilots it is always a special moment for a young cadet, he said.
"They are learning how to fly which is something that not everyone gets to do but there is also the symbolic piece to it, getting presented with their wings which is a significant milestone as well."
Cadets have been heading home over the last few days as they finish their flying tests. But there were still a few cadets hanging around the flying club.
Among them were Arti Dhoot from Campbellton, N.B. and Annie Wen from Saint John's N.L.
The girls became fast friends over the summer and were busy helping each other put away and tie down gliders on Friday afternoon.
Learning to fly at the Debert school has made for one of the best summers ever, said Wen. It was really challenging but the small classrooms and the great teachers made you want to learn all the more.
"If you are ever unsuccessful in a flight they (instructors) don't say 'OK no more.' They sit you down and explain to you what you could have done and different things you can try," she said.
As each cadet heads home they leave with new experiences and stories to tell their friends about their summer spent in the sky. And even though it was hard being away from home, the company the cadets had at the school was great, said Dhoot.
"I made a lot of new friends," she laughed, giving Wen a hug.
"I also missed home a couple of times but just meeting new people the excitement keeps you going."

Organizations: Canadian Air Cadets, Truro Flying Club, Debert school

Geographic location: Debert, Atlantic Canada, Campbellton Saint John's

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