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Local Pilot, Erwin Warkentin, began offering flight training in Vermilion this year including recurrent training. His services are dependent on students owning their own aircraft, but allow them to not incur the expenses of living or driving further away. Staying closer to home has not only allowed people to keep costs down, but attracted business opportunities in Vermilion as well. For example, according to Warkentin, a past student from Elk Point hangered his plane in Vermilion for the summer. Warkentin himself spent four hours per day driving for his specialized training, so he values having a local option available. “Learning to fly is another way to see how beautiful this country is from up above. Some people become pilots for business reasons, accessing partners or markets across the prairies. For people who want a career in flying, I don’t do airliners but you don’t learn to drive an 18 wheeler before a car; you have to start somewhere. Aviation is not that expensive if you compare the cost of everyone’s hobbies. A person could spend $8,000 – $20,000 depending on the training they want and an additional $20,000 and up for an airplane, but a lot of nicer trucks or RVs are more expensive than that. The advantage of Vermilion is that we have a smaller, quieter airspace which avoids waiting lists for airspace. It allows me to expose my students to a lot of different scenarios for example a military style landing in Cold Lake, or busier space in Calgary when they have an instructor on board rather than their family,” said Warkentin. He never imagined being a career instructor, but enjoys sharing his passion for flying with students and feels the opportunity fits his lifestyle allowing him to be home with a young family. Having flown from Kelowna to St. John’s Newfoundland, to Yellowknife, he feels he can pass on his experiences seeing the country. Having been hired on a photo mission, and having the client call him back to let him know how much getting the perfect shot was going to help them out, made him feel like his work was worth it. “It’s hard to describe the sheer joy of flying. The exhilaration can be an adrenaline rush depending on the kind of flying; for instance during a technical flight such as aerobatics, making sure we are safety conscious is stimulating. Pulling six times your body weight and doing a manoeuver does have its own appeal!” said Warkentin. Warkentin developed his first interest in flying at five-years-old when visiting the WCA Museum with his parents in Winnipeg. He went on to say that the Vermilion River Flying Club allows for comradery and the opportunity to interact with other pilots. He noted that within the community there are experienced pilots from the pleasure aspect, to commercial pilots, bush pilots, and crop dusters. He also noted that Vermilion has a council engaged with the needs of the airport, and who want things to prosper. He feels it is a huge benefit to have people willing to listen to their concerns. For more information, people can call 780-214-8324.
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