Flying high

Danette Dooley
Published on September 24, 2011
Warrant Officer Second Class Travis Buckle (left) is shown with the 510 Air Cadets squadron commanding officer, Capt. Gabrielle Martin. — Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

Travis Buckle earned his private pilot’s licence this summer — an accomplishment that costs thousands of dollars but didn’t take one dime out of the 17-year-old’s pockets.

In fact, Travis was paid a training bonus while studying at Gander Flight Training School.

He’s a warrant officer second class (WO2) and squadron commander of the 510 Air Cadets based at St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s.

He obtained his private pilot’s licence through a partnership between the Department of National Defence and the Air Cadet League of Canada.

He completed the seven-week course along with four other cadets from this province. He already has his glider’s licence.

Travis’ interest in flying is rooted in his family.

“My grandfather (Wallace Buckle) had his own bush plane in Labrador that he used to fly around when my dad, (Tim Buckle), was small,” Travis said.

“And I actually got to take them both for a ride this summer.”

Travis’s parents, Sgt. Tim Buckle and Insp. Paula Walsh, are both RNC officers.

He’s in his first year at Memorial University and he’d also like to pursue a career with the police force.

Capt. Gabrielle Martin, 510 squadron commanding officer, said cadets like Travis and Sara Mahoney, who also has her glider’s licence, are great role models for younger cadets.

“It’s very impressive for cadets to have their private pilot’s licence ,but the younger cadets also hear about the work that goes into it and they realize it’s a long process,” she said.

Private pilot scholarships are based on a cadet’s academic standing as well as other factors including accomplishments within their squadron.

If they are accepted into the program, Martin said, they spend six days a week during  the summer training and studying from morning until night.

Travis has been an air cadet since the age of 13. In 2009, he was given the Air Force Association Medal for being the top cadet for Newfoundland and Labrador at the  Air Cadet Senior Leaders’ Course in Cold Lake, Alta.

Guiding youth to become leaders in their communities is what the cadet movement is all about, Martin said.

“These teenagers and young people see a job that needs doing and they go out and do it. They take active roles in their communities,” she said.

The cadet program — Air, Army and Navy — was introduced in this province in 1949. It’s for youth ages 12-18, regardless of their ability to pay.

One of the founding squadrons, 510 Air Cadets has been sponsored by the St. John’s Lions Club for six decades.

The Lions pick up expenses not covered by other sources.

Norm Macfie of the Air Cadet League of Canada said that in addition to receiving a scholarship to complete the private pilot’s licence program, cadets enrolled in the course also receive a training bonus.

He said cadets learn to discipline themselves rather than be disciplined by others.

“They learn to act as part of a team. The skills and lessons they learn through the cadet program will last all their lives,” he said.