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EFC Alumni

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Aaron Dittrich

Who am I and where am I now? 

I was born in Smithers, B.C. but I spent most of my school years in Fort Vermilion, Alberta. After high school I attended the University of Lethbridge and University of Alberta where I completed degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science, respectively. Originally planning to continue with a Ph.D., I got a crazy idea in my head one evening while flying from Toronto back to Edmonton. Aviation had always been something that fascinated me and the idea of getting a pilot license had been simmering in the back of my mind for many years. That evening I decided to completely alter my career path. After graduating from the U of A I worked for TELUS for two years while I completed my flight training at EFC. Upon finishing my instructor rating I was hired by the club and worked in that capacity for one year before moving on to Nor-Alta Aviation as a Cessna Caravan pilot. I left there four years later as a King Air captain, spent the next two doing the same thing at Bar XH Air in Medicine Hat. I then accepted a position as a 737 First Officer for Canadian North Airlines, based in Calgary, which is where I have been employed since early 2013. 

Why did I choose EFC? 

I chose EFC based on its history and its reputation for quality instruction, as well as the fleet diversity that it had. Its location at the City Centre Airport (at the time) was also very convenient. Flying in and out of YXD was always a wonderful experience that I still miss. 

How did EFC help my career or help me achieve my flying goals ? 

EFC jump started my career in that I was hired as an instructor minutes after passing my instructor rating flight test. Given the busy nature of the school, I was also able to get to know several people in the industry, one of which became my next boss when he hired me for my subsequent job. 

What is your most memorable experience at EFC?

After the wings banquet one evening, when most people had long since left, the staff members who were still present all climbed onto the hangar roof and finished the party up there. The view of the City Centre Airport, set against the backdrop of downtown Edmonton that calm evening, and the great time we all shared together remains one of my fondest memories from those days. 

If you had to give advice to someone starting out what would you say?

Networking is key. Don’t wait until you finish your CPL flight test to start applying for jobs. Get to know as many people in the industry as early as you can. Every employer in Canada that hires low time pilots has a stack of 100+ identical resumes, and the chances of yours being picked at random are slim. Employers tend to hire those people whom they know and can put a face to. In the end,an extra 2.7 hours of multi-PIC isn’t going to land you a job. It’s your persistence, positive attitude and willingness to learn. 

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Scott Holmes

Who am I and where am I now? 

I’m an Engineer at a chemical plant east of Edmonton. I’ve been flying for 10 years, completing my CPL at EFC in 2011. I own and fly a formula one air racing airplane called a Cassutt, Race 9. During the racing off-seasons my team and I are building a new formula one racing airplane that we hope to set some world speed and altitude records with.

Why did I choose EFC? 

I knew a few of the instructors out there and they had cool Diamonds!

What is your most memorable experience at EFC?

Commercial steep turn 180’s under the hood with Scott Mcleod while time building for my night rating! 

If you had to give some advice to someone, what would you say?

Get in an aerobatic taildragger ASAP!

 


 

Kristen Pearce

Who am I and where am I now? 

I am from Edmonton and started my flight training in the fall of 2000. I got all of my licenses and ratings at EFC except for my private. After getting my instructor rating in 2007, I was hired as an instructor in September of 2007. After working my way up the ladder and eventually teaching multi IFR and becoming the Chief Flight Instructor I ended my instructing career in the summer of 2012. After a year hiatus from flying I was lucky to get a job with Sunwest Aviation as a First Officer on the Lear 45. My goal as a student when I first started had been airlines, but as time went on that goal turned into corporate flying and am happy to be at the job I've been dreaming of for a long time. This plane and company allow me to see many new places that I've never been to before and I love it all! 

Why did I choose EFC? 

 EFC has such a great reputation and an amazing history. After getting my private license elsewhere I felt that there was more to this flying thing, and decided to look at EFC. When I walked through the doors the staff was inviting and made me excited to continue my training there. Through all my years there, I had the same feelings and truly believe it is the best training school in the Edmonton area 

Most memorable experience?  

My most memorable experience was probably becoming CFI. I never went there expecting to become CFI but was sure happy I did. I learnt a lot about myself and the industry. Such a great experience.  

How did EFC help my career? 

 EFC helped my career in a way that it taught me discipline in my flying and allowed me to learn from many different people with different techniques. I went from instructing to the Lear 45 so it was a huge learning curve. I knew that what I had learnt at EFC I could apply there as well. I remember answering this question in my interview "coming from instructing to a jet, what skills do you think you can bring to this new environment?" I said, with instructing you have to understand not only the flying part but the theoretical part too. That stuff doesn't change from aircraft to aircraft. Also with instructing you must try your best to show each exercise perfectly to the students so I feel that I Got the opportunity to do a great landing every single time etc etc for each exercise. There wasn't a chance to do a bad demo.  I believe that's what made me a good pilot.  

Advice?  

Understand that your goals may change throughout your career. The best thing I did was make mini goals along the way. Once I was satisfied with one goal I would set another. This allowed me to accomplish things and be proud of them yet still strive for others. 

 


Carol Jones

I got my private pilot license in Dec 2012.  My story is a little different than most pilots as I did not dream of flying all my life.

My story begins about 10 years before when my husband comes to me and asks if I want to do a “craft project.”  His father (Tren) had bought a kit to build a Challenger Ultra light and needed a little help putting it together.  It had always been his dream to fly and being 87 years old, we thought it was a good idea to help him build this aircraft.  So my son Seth (age 14 at the time) and I began the task of applying fabric to the aluminum and putting together this aircraft in our garage. When fuselage was finish and the project became too large for the garage, we moved it to the back yard. We received many inquiries from curious onlookers as to what we were doing in our suburban yard, but it was an excellent experience for my son and I to work together.  

When the ultra light was finished we moved it out to Snowbird Aviation (St Albert, AB) to have help putting the Rotox engine and cables and braking systems in and readying the aircraft for Canadian registration. It was an exciting day when first test flight was done! Through this experience I learned about every piece of the aircraft and how it functioned.  We moved the Challenger down to Moses Lake, WA where my 87year old father-in-law got his recreational pilot license. The same plane was used to train my son (when he turned 16) and my husband. I was only able to fly a couple times a year so it was not practical for me to get my license at this time.

When my youngest of eight children left home to go to college, I was at home one evening thinking that this would be a good time to learn to fly. So I looked up flying clubs in the Edmonton area and found the Edmonton Flying Club to be the most organized and professional approach to learning. Ground school was two evenings a week and I could study when I was not working as a medical assistant at a doctors office. My family has been very supportive of me and have been excited to watch me progress.

I feel that I have been well trained by the Edmonton Flying Club and staff continually are supportive and informative of changes to airspace and new airport updates, etc.  One of my most memorable experiences was the first time I had a radio communication failure in my aircraft, and having my thoughts immediately going to the training I had grilled into me by Sophia as to emergency procedures. I was thankful I knew what to do.

My advice for other people is that “You are never to old to Learn.”


Nick Anderson

Where are you now?

I am currently working as a Dash 8 Captain at Sunwest Aviation. I have been with Sunwest almost 3 years now. 

Why did you choose EFC?

I chose EFC because of the people and the quality of the Aircraft that they operate. 

What is your most memorable experience at EFC?

My most memorable experience from EFC would have to be the good times  shared over a few drinks with the great people that worked there. EFC was a great place for me to get a successful start with more then enough work for you if you wanted it.

Advice?

Make the best choices on where you want to end up for more than a year or two and you will be much happier. If you want the airlines your time will come if you're patient, but don't be in a rush to get there. Some of the small operators will be the most enjoyable flying of your career


Gary Sorge

I have been flying for 42 years.  When I was just a whippersnapper I used to spend the summers on my grandparents’ farm.  As it turns out, the farm was on the V302 airway between YEG and YRM and I would watch with envy as the dozens of planes flew over every day.  Then one day a little Piper Tri-Pacer landed in a field next to our farm and I was over like a shot to meet the intrepid aviator and his amazing flying machine.  He turned out to be a really nice guy and even let me sit in the cockpit and touch the controls.  To this day I am still not sure why he stopped that day.  But, from that day forward, I was hooked.  Within a few years I was old enough to get into Air Cadets and 504 Squadron provided the opportunity for my first time at the controls of a real airplane, a Beech 18 Expediter, which became the launching platform for my aviation career. 

I joined the EFC in 1973 and have had so many wonderful memories but the one that stands out the most is my first solo!  I can remember it like it was yesterday.  My instructor said it was a good day for practising some circuits.  Little did I realize that after two circuits he was going to push me out of the nest, so to speak.  He asked me to taxi back to the club.  That was all - just taxi back to the club.  I wasn't sure if I'd really messed up and that was the lesson for today or what.  However, when we got back to the club he said he had to go to the washroom and I could do the next circuit on my own.  On my own!!!   Are you sure???  I was both excited and nervous at the same time.  The takeoff and flying part didn't bother me - it was the landing part that had me a little apprehensive.  But I rationalized to myself, "What the heck, if the landing doesn't look good I will just go around and try it again.  I had lots of fuel and even if it took me five or six tries, one way or another I would get this aircraft back on terra firma."  As it turned out the first landing attempt was all I needed and taxiing back I was rather proud of myself.  Although, when I got back to pick up my instructor my cheeks hurt - apparently, from the big smile I was sporting all the way back to the club.  

I have always flown just for fun as my main career has always been in IT (Information Technology).  However, my license has given me the opportunity to fly all over the world.  Here are just a few flying adventures:  Cook Islands - buzzing the tropical shores of Rarotonga, Hawaii - soaring the up drafts over Haleakala National Park in Maui, Victoria and Vancouver Island, Fullerton California - Top Gun Air Combat, NWT - Search and Rescue, Oshkosh, Rhinebeck New York, Sun 'n Fun Lakeland Florida and Camrose Fly-In breakfasts. 

My advice to anyone bitten by the flying bug - don't let time or money get in your way, just do it! 

Special thanks to all the patient and professional instructors at the Edmonton Flying Club who helped me obtain all my licenses and ratings over the years.    


Brad Keats

Who are you and where are now? 

I was hired at EFC in August of 2012 as a class 4 instructor, and eventually became a class 3 teaching on EFC's fleet as well as private aircraft. After a little over 2 years of instructing, I took the next big step in my career and got hired on at Alberta Central Airways, flying a King Air 200 for medevac operations out of Lac La Biche. 

What's been your most memorable experience with EFC?

The most memorable experience would have to be being at the City Centre Airport until the very end, and helping to start the new adventure at the Parkland Airport. There were many more throughout my time at EFC, the mountain trips, landing on the lake in Lac La Biche for the Festival of Speed (In the winter of course), but being apart of the new start is definitely the most memorable.

How did EFC help your career?

EFC gave me that "first job" in starting my career. With instructing, you get to fly with numerous types of people and personalities which down the road, will happen often, and "teaching it right, the first time" plays a big role in honing your skills as a pilot.

Advice?

The airlines may be your long term goal, but don't rush to get there. The fun and experience come with the journey. There are many types of flying opportunities you can do before the airlines, which is where you will get those stories you will tell for years. 


Niall Tymkow

Who are you and where are now?  

I am currently working as a first officer on a Dash 8 for R1 Airlines. We are a charter company who does mostly flying for oil companies throughout Alberta and British Columbia. We do crew changes for many of the camps in the oil sands. We also do contract flying for non-government organizations in places such as Afghanistan or other countries around the world as they come up. 

I am originally from Barrhead, Alberta and moved to Edmonton for University in 1999. I took a bachelors degree in Physical Education at the University of Alberta. After a few years of working in that industry, I decided I wanted to change fields and try out aviation, which had always been what I really wanted to do the whole time.

I went to EFC where I obtained my PPL, CPL, Multi-IFR and instructor rating. I worked as instructor at EFC for approximately 3 years, and then after a while up north found my current position in Calgary.

Why did you choose EFC?

When I was selecting where I wanted to take my education I spent a fair bit of time checking out the local schools, in the end I chose EFC because the fit was right.  I spoke with a couple of instructors at the time at the clubs in Edmonton and did a fair bit of research. What finally made me choose EFC was the staff, I was impressed with all the people I met through the club.  All of the personalities and knowledge of the people I had the opportunity to meet made it an easy decision.  I was also impressed by the quality of the fleet and the facilities the club used for its operation.

What's been your most memorable experience with EFC?

My most memorable experience at EFC was the time I spent there as instructor. I was very fortunate to have worked with very bright and talented group of people. I feel extremely enriched both professionally and personally because of the opportunity I had to work with such a strong group of colleagues. I am also very proud to look at many of my former students and see how they are progressing in their careers. To see a student who you remember their first flight, and to years later see them at the beginning of a career they love feels truly rewarding.

How did EFC help your career?

EFC did much more then just help my career, it gave me the foundation I used to develop my career into what it is. Whether it’s from the high standard of flying I learned, to the interpersonal skills I developed while teaching and working with many different personalities, to the relationships I developed.  There is no question EFC was the perfect place for me to start my aviation career. Many of the individuals who were in my original PPL ground school course, and people I had the opportunity to work with at EFC, are the professionals and friends who are in the field presently that I chat with daily. Whether it’s just for meeting for coffee, or to talk about career opportunities, or sharing our flying stories, the relationships I developed at EFC continue to be one of best part of my flying career.

If you had to give advice to someone starting out what would you say?

I would give two pieces of advice to somebody who was starting out.

First, make sure the only reason you get into this line of work is because of a true love of flying. I honestly couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else and truly love getting paid to fly all day long. That being said, for the people who think the life of a pilot is the image of a 1960’s PanAm pilot, things have changed. If your image of a pilot is traveling the world while making a small fortune, and that is why you are interested in being a pilot, this might not be the right field for you. However, if the flying is why you are here and genuine love of aviation is why you want to be a pilot, you couldn’t ever ask for a better job.

Second, enjoy the journey. Don’t rush through your career expecting to be flying a 777 around the world tomorrow. You will get there, but have fun along the way. Don’t look at your early jobs as stepping-stones and be looking for whats next. Take the time to develop your skill and learn every day. See every job as an opportunity to grow and enjoy it as you go. One day you will be on a 777, but don’t be in a rush. The jobs many people are often in a rush to move on from are often the most enjoyable and beneficial phases of your career. Take the time to enjoy them.   


Dave Wilson

Who are you and what made you decide to get into flying?

Flying was something I have always wanted to do. As a teenager I inherited training books, letters and photos from my uncle who had flown during World War 2.  Unfortunately he never came home.  This instilled a great interest in Canadian Aviation history and wanting to learn to fly.  

I grew up in Winnipeg not far from the airport, I used to go down there and watch Voodoos be test flown from Bristol Aerospace. Sometimes late at night we would sneak on to the RCAF base so we could get up close and touch the Starfighters, CF 100s and CF5s; security was a whole lot simpler in those days.  

Summers were spent working at a fly-in fishing camp near Red lake in Northern Ontario, nothing but Beavers, Norseman, Beech 18’s, Otters and the odd PBY.  A great way to grow up.

Why did you choose EFC?

I chose EFC because of the history of the organization followed up by a visit and first class tour (from Bill D.) as well as the location in the city.  Loved the idea of learning from a busy airport and one that years ago my uncle flew out of.

What is your most memorable moment from EFC so far?

Without doubt the most memorable moment would be the spirit, camaraderie and the strength of the people involved in teaching/training/learning/fixing/dispatching.  These people simply love to fly

Now that you have your license what do you use it for?

Right now it will be for personal use to acquire hours and experience.  Looking forward to getting my night rating once the lights are in and continuing to grow from there.

Any advice for other people like you who want to get their license?

Don’t wait for “someday” to accomplish your goals.  Make someday today

 


Robert Austen

Who are you and what made you decide to get into flying? 

By day I'm a professional engineer, specialing in micro electronics and embedded OS/device driver/low-level software.  My earliest memory is watching the launch of a Saturn V, and ever since, I've wanted to fly (and go to space).

What is your most memorable moment from EFC so far? 

The Great Falls mountain rating flight. A group of 4 planes were supposed to go to Great Falls, then Glacier Intl Airport, and return through Cut Bank. Due to weather, the trip diverted East to Regina. I think it was because we had a number of people all travelling together in small planes that the trip was memorable.

Now that you have your license what do you use it for? 

Aerobatics!

And the occassional flight to EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, to learn more about aerobatics.

Any advice for other people like you who want to get their license? 

  1. Get started!
  2. Make several bookings a week and fly often, and enjoy each and every flight 
  3. Master the slips, and at all other times, keep the tail behind the nose.

Bob Huntingford

Who are you and what made you decide to get into flying?

I am a retired telecommunications installer for Telus. My job took me around the world twice with a large amount of that time spent in the air flying. After retiring early (age 58) I needed something to keep me busy so I decided to get my pilots license, thinking I could fly south for the winters.

Why did you choose EFC?

The closest and most convenient flying school was the Edmonton Flying Club based at the City Center  Airport, so I enrolled in 2010 and after 10 months I received my pilots license. The staff at EFC were very friendly and the instructors were very helpful with any problems you might have. I liked it so much I became a dispatcher myself. Great place to visit or work.

What is your most memorable moment from EFC so far?

I have two very memorable moments with EFC. The first big moment is going solo, hoping you don't damage the plane and knowing that there are people watching so you aren't going to be able to make up an excuse. My second big moment was a dead stick landing one week after getting my license. I know that the hours of training paid off when I was able to land at the City Center without any problem even though the engine had failed but the prop was still windmilling. Thanks to the training there was no panic just do what you had been trained to do.

Now that you have your license what do you use it for?

Now that I am licensed I have no intention of upgrading to commercial or going for my IFR rating as I am just a recreation pilot who enjoys watching the countryside from a few thousand feet above the ground. I did the mountain course last year and I intend to do more flying into and along the mountain ranges just because it is a nice change from the flat prairie. I am currently building my own aircraft and once completed I intend to fly it south for the winters and during the summers take in as many fly-ins as possible.

Any advice for other people like you who want to get their license?

My only advice is don't wait to get started flying. If you ever thought you would like to try it, then find a way to go for it. The new aircraft that the flying club has added to their fleet and the excellent instructors there is no better time than now. 

 


Don Riep

Who are you and what made you decide to get into flying?

My name is Don Riep, I’ve been a local Edmontonian all my life, and the co-founder of a testing and training company, Yardstick, with my good friend and fellow pilot Chris LaBossiere. How did I decide to get into flying? Golf. That’s right, golf. I was on a course out at Toefield, and on one of the holes, there was a sign on the fairway that said “Yield to airplanes”. Moments later, a beautiful yellow taildragger landed right there, 50 feet in front of me. That was it. I told myself I need to try this out. I booked my first discovery flight at the EFC, and never looked back. 

Why did you choose EFC?

The Edmonton flying club had the best local training program, years of history, friendly, encouraging staff, and right at the heart of tower / terminal controlled Edmonton Class C airspace. What better place to learn to fly?

What is your most memorable moment from EFC so far?

The most memorable moment in my aviation career and at the EFC thus far, hands down, was my first solo. That bright, sunny day out at Villeneuve airport when my EFC instructor, Christine Gallagher, hopped out of the right seat in the small classic Cessna 152, engine running, and that vivid image of the empty brown, worn out seat beside me on my first solo climb-out. What a rush that was.

Now that you have your license what do you use it for?

Today I hold my instrument rating, and try and use my airplane for both business and personal use. I wanted a Cross-country machine that could go the miles, and make business travel in a small airplane somewhat practical. At 200 knots, FIKI ice protection and 25,000’ ceiling, it’s getting there.

Any advice for other people like you who want to get their license?

Go for a discovery flight. If you really like it, and can see yourself in the left seat, be committed. I hear so many stories of people that ‘almost’ get their license. It’s an expensive, taxing exercise...but hugely rewarding. Do the research, understand the costs, plan for it, then go hard! You won’t ever regret it.


Shawn Veinot 

WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET INTO FLYING?

I am originally from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia and moved to Edmonton when I was assigned as a platoon commander to the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in 2008.  I obtained my PPL from just outside of Montreal, Quebec in 2005 but felt I should get current again in 2009 prior to my deployment to Afghanistan so I went to EFC.  I retired as a Captain from the Canadian Army in 2013 and chose to pursue a career in aviation. Currently, I am a First Officer on the DHC 6-300 Twin Otter at Alberta Central Airways in Lac La Biche, Alberta. I feel very lucky to have this job as I can say I'm a "bush pilot" - something I will undoubtedly look back upon if I move on to fly 705 type operations in the future. We primarily fly into the Oil Sands area conducting crew changes for operators from Eastern Alberta and Saskatchewan which is more of the routine airport to airport type 704 flying.  Then we switch it up and fly into unprepared grass/snow covered strips for crew changes and cargo runs, operating under 703 west/northwest of Fort McMurray.  Finally, our company is moving forward with a medevac contract for the Twin Otter which will serve all of Alberta. I'm lucky to say I get to do all types of flying. 

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE EFC?

When I walked in for my first check-on-type in 2009, I felt welcomed by the pleasant dispatch staff who made me comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.  The instructor assigned to me made me feel welcome and provided both positive reinforcement of my skills and professionally critiqued my areas I was very, very rusty on, having not flown for 3 years. Even after I completed my CPL with EFC (thanks Niall), I shopped around for my next step with the Multi-IFR and found that the other schools had a different atmosphere so I returned to EFC knowing that I would continue to enjoy the environment. 

What's been your most memorable experience with EFC? 

My most memorable experience at EFC was being an instructor at both CYXD and CPL6; specifically teaching the mountain rating.  Although I only had the opportunity to complete a few during my time at EFC, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the students the theory associated with mountain flying and seeing them "get it" because it builds on all facets of aviation - air law, theory of flight, meteorology, and navigation.  And flying in mountains is an absolutely breathtaking experience - one that any picture or video on this site cannot do it justice.

How did EFC help your career?

Firstly, EFC enabled me to obtain my night rating, CPL, Multi-IFR, and Class 4 instructor rating and then subsequent employment to upgrade me to a Class 3 instructor. These were crucial goals I wanted to obtain as a professional pilot. As an instructor at EFC, I learned how to deal with different personalities every 2 hours throughout that day.  This skill has helped me when flying with various Captains at my current job and has undoubtedly formed the basis for working in a 2-crew environment throughout the rest of my career. Additionally, being an instructor is a very demanding job.  Every flight needs to be your best so that your students get the most out of the training.  This requirement took my previous Army experience of maintaining mental agility to a whole new level in aviation; it has enabled me to remain focused on the mission as we fly for extended periods in my current job.

ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO WANT TO GET THEIR LICENSE?

From the first moment you've parked your car in the EFC parking lot you've started your aviation career. How exciting!!  Enjoy every step of the way! Becoming a professional pilot is a lot of hard work and requires self-study skills and perseverance! None of us are Chuck Yeager or Neil Armstrong and we've all had bad flights - those are the days you learn the most, so embrace it! Know your limits, push yourself further than yesterday, embrace the challenge of aviation, and persevere. A day you learn something new, no matter how life-altering or small, is a day worthwhile. You will get there - enjoy the journey. Carpe Diem.