Fuelling aviation dreams
eremy Barton, 5, grins to have his Tom Cat model plane autographed by CF Snowbirds Captain Blake McNaughton following their performance over the Camrose Airport on July 18 in Camrose. Leah Simonot/Camrose Canadian/Postmedia Network
“Amazing,” said 12-year-old Josh Agrey in the wake of a strong hot wind stirred up by the whirring to life of 10 Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet engines.
He missed seeing Snowbirds perform over Camrose on Wednesday, but there was no way he was missing the opportunity to see them off the following afternoon.
Agrey has flown several times on big commercial jets and signed up to ride in a small plane at the fly-in breakfast last year. He said he loves everything about airplanes, but is especially fond of the views and the feeling of smaller aircraft.
“Some of them are bumpy or turny — you can feel them turning,” said Agrey.
He waited with his family outside the Camrose Airport terminal for the delayed takeoff, and was excited to speak with Snowbird 1 Major Denis Bandet about what it takes to become a pilot through military school. Agrey has a strong interest in flying planes himself.
“You get to be up in the air. Humans can’t really do that,” he said.
Cody Bell volunteered at the airport while the Snowbirds were marshalled in Tuesday as well as during their show. He said watching them maneuver in tight formations at such high airspeed is impressive, but his interactions with the pilots were equally so.
“I've seen the snowbirds before, but being with them was a whole different level,” he said. “I would love to do that, just fly [jets] for work, which is super cool and flying airshows, which is great.”
Going up in a small plane at the fly-in breakfast sparked his love for aviation. Fascinated by the thought of being in control of a machine so powerful, 10-year-old Bell began asking to sit in the cockpit and speak with the pilot at the end of commercial flights.
“I was just fascinated by all their gauges. Instead of looking out the side at the wings you get to look out front — completely different perspective from up there. It's just cool to see all the different stuff they play around with and the modern technology,” he said. “Every time we go on big planes I try to get into the cockpit after the flight. Usually the pilots are great and they let you in … they tell me it's a big Game Boy just with real people.”
Bell completed ground school in Camrose a few years ago, then jumped to Wetaskiwin to start flying airplanes. At 17 years old, he has his recreational pilot’s license and obtained his private pilot’s license Friday. With 106 flying hours, he believes he is on track to go for his commercial license (200 flying hours) next year.
“I wanted to get it to work, do something different not any person can get just like that,” said Bell.
His goal is to fly private jets and possibly join the Canadian Armed Forces. No matter the career he chooses, he is enthusiastic about the freedom aviation affords him.
“Just being in control of a thing going that fast, that high and travelling,” he said. “You can go to different locations…being in the air, see a different perspective.”