Flying school lands Chinese pilots

SPRINGBROOK — It was fitting that it was perfect flying weather on Wednesday as Sky Wings Aviation Academy Ltd. announced a nearly $15-million deal to teach 200 Chinese pilots.

SPRINGBROOK — It was fitting that it was perfect flying weather on Wednesday as Sky Wings Aviation Academy Ltd. announced a nearly $15-million deal to teach 200 Chinese pilots.

After all, Central Alberta’s 300 days of good flying conditions were one of the big draws for China Flying Dragon Aviation, a general aviation company based in Harbin, a city of nearly six million in northeastern China.

“This is the perfect place to fly,” said Dennis Cooper, CEO of Sky Wings, shortly before a contract-signing ceremony with a representative from the Chinese company, which operates short-haul passenger and charter cargo flights, as well as offering maritime surveillance, aerial photography and forestry protection services.

Besides clear skies, Sky Wings can offer students the experience of flying in the mountains to soaring over flat featureless terrain less than an hour of flight time away and for long-haul flights, the Chinese pilots will range as far as Winnipeg and Whitehorse.

Unlike many parts of the world, Canada also offers the opportunity to take to the skies with few of the restrictions, such as flying times, that ground civilian pilots in other countries, said Cooper.

“There will be a tremendous amount of range of flight that we can offer.”

Training the first 10 pilots is part of a $750,000 deal for Sky Wings. The agreement to teach the remaining 190 pilots is expected to be worth about $14 million.

China Flying Dragon Aviation found Sky Wings through its website, but the deal also owes much to good relations between China and Canada and the economic development efforts of the Alberta government in Asia, he said.

Cooper said the Chinese contract and a commitment to train 16 air cadets this summer will mean boosting the number of instructors to 11 from seven in Springbrook this summer. Another four instructors are based at Sky Wings’ Okotoks base. In all, the company flies 11 training aircraft.

The first 10 Chinese students have already landed in Springbrook and will began their training this week to become commercial pilots with multi-instrument rating, a process that will take close to a year.

Cooper calls this first cadre the pioneers of the training program and it is hoped a few of the graduating students stick around to help train the 190 who will follow in groups of 30 or so over the next five years.

They will be housed in quarters set up in a nearby hangar.

The young students, university graduates in their 20s, have already begun to settle in. Most know some English, which is the language they will be taught in.

Tyler Zhao, 25, is among those looking forward to his experience in Canada.

“We have a lot of teachers here. We can fly freely and we can learn a lot of things like English, a different culture and experience more. That’s why we came to Canada.

“The food here will take us a long time getting used to it, but other things I think (are) pretty good,” he added with a grin.

Candice Chu, 25, is the only woman in the first group, and she is proud to be part of the training program and is looking forward to being more independent and to experience more, said Zhao, who translated for her.

Lawrence Lee, president of the Red Deer and District Chinese Community Society, said they already have plans to take the newcomers under their wing and show them how Western and Chinese cultures have intertwined as guests at the society’s potluck dinners.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Cori Gauff of the United States reacts after missing a point against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during their 3rd round match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Gauff won 7-5, 6-3. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Never count him out: Nadal rallies past Shapovalov in Rome

Never count him out: Nadal rallies past Shapovalov in Rome

Most Read