Learning to fly

Brandon Anstey
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Appleton teen earns pilot license

Appleton’s Natalie Schofield spent the better part of her summer learning to fly and she now has her wings.

CHECK IT OUT – Aircadet Natalie Schofield of Appleton performs a pre- flight check on an aircraft before flying. The young aviator recently earned her private pilot license.



The 17 year-old air cadet spent seven weeks completing the Power Pilot Scholarship at the Atlantic Regional Gliding School in Nova Scotia. She was just one of 32 cadets selected for the prestigious program, and she’s very proud to be walking away with private pilot credentials.

“It was actually amazing; it was so much fun,” said Schofield of the experience. “I’ve been a cadet for six years and I’ve been wanting to fly for the last three years or so.”

There were a lot of highlights for the young pilot throughout the program but one experience flies above the rest.

“It was definitely my first solo flight,” she said. “That’s my favourite memory. You go up with an instructor every single time leading up to that solo flight, and my fourteenth flight was my solo. I got in, done all my checks and everything by myself. I took off and I was up there flying around for about 20 minutes.”

Schofield had already obtained a glider pilot license by the time she entered this year’s program, and earning a private pilot license was a rewarding experience for the young aviator.

“It means quite a lot because there’s only a few people every year that get selected for the program, and getting picked to go is a huge honour. It’s a really challenging course on top of that, but the challenges just pushes you and helps you to learn.”

While the program focused on flying, some of the biggest challenges were on the ground.

“The ground school portion of it was definitely challenging,” said Schofield. “We’d be having exams on top of the responsibility of flying. If it were good weather, we’d spend half of the day flying and the other half in ground school, so it is a lot. The first couple weeks weren’t as hard but once you get into leading up to your Transport Canada exam and your flight test, everything starts to lay down on you a lot.”

The young pilot learned how to react to an emergency situation in the air and it’s a good thing she did. According to Schofield, she had been circuit flying when she noticed she wasn’t climbing at the normal rate.

“We learned what to do in case anything like an engine failure ever happened or anything like that. I actually had an engine failure one time while flying solo this summer. It was a little scary but I had been taught what to do in that situation. I kept calm, landed as fast as I could and everything was fine.”

The biggest reward, said Schofield, is flying away with her wings.

“It was definitely getting my license. I learned a lot from the experience like teamwork, and how to adapt to different situations. Every day was different. If it was nice weather we’d be flying and we’d be in ground school if the weather was poor.”

The power pilot program provided Schofield with a basic private pilot license that allows her air freedom with some restrictions.

“I can fly Cessna 172s,” said the young pilot. “I can only fly during the daylight, but I can take passengers up and everything. The only thing with a private license compared to a commercial license is that I can’t make a profit, so people can’t pay me for taking them up. I’d have to get a night rating if I wanted to fly at night; there are different ratings for different parts of your license.”

The airborne experience is another step towards achieving her ultimate goals, said Schofield.

“Right now, I want to join the military and go for a pilot license through there, but it’s a very hard thing to do. If I don’t pass the aircrew selection for military pilot, I’m going to go for a communications and electronics air officer. A lot of people think the skills you learn through cadets are just a plot to join the military but it’s not. I can use all of the skills I’ve learned no matter what career I get into.”



Twitter: @beaconnl

Organizations: Atlantic Regional Gliding School, Transport Canada

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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