Fifteen-year-old Adrian James-Stagg has never driven a car, but he can describe how the yoke, or control wheel, of an Allegro 2000 Advanced Ultralight airplane feels in his hand.
“It’s pretty scary. You don’t have to move it that much when you’re making a turn,” he said. “It’s just a little…”
He then mimed a slight turn of the yoke and motioned a flattened hand to show how the airplane would slice to one side. He explained the move patiently and confidently, as though he were an instructor himself. Of course he’s only ever flown once. He’s only been in an airplane once, for that matter.
James-Stagg is one of six students chosen for the second annual two-week program at Eagle’s Wings Flight School in Portage la Prairie. With the help of Dakota Ojibway Child and Family Services, the program reached out to Indigenous youth across First Nations in Manitoba. Boys and girls from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation and Roseau River, Long Plain, Dakota Tipi and Swan Lake First Nations comprise the would-be pilots.
James-Stagg, from Dakota Tipi First Nation, has been fascinated by airplanes ever since a field trip with his Grade 5 class to Southport Aerospace Centre just south of Portage la Prairie. He couldn’t have known then he’d one day zip down those very runways and soar above them with one hand on the throttle. When program co-founder Ashleigh Cordery discovered his passion in the application interview, she knew he was an ideal candidate.
But Ashleigh and her husband and co-founder Josh Cordery aren’t aiming to churn out pilots. The goal, they say, is to build confidence and practical life skills.
“When my wing gives up and stalls, the nose will fall and we’ll start to feel a sinking sensation. And it’s a pretty convincing sinking sensation,” said Josh Cordery, one of three flight instructors, during the daily preflight brief. “Not to worry, because we don’t panic when we have problems. We just apply what we know.”
Article written by By: Cody Sellar from Winnipeg Free Press