Josh Cowen

Josh Cowen

The sky is not the limit for assistant coach Josh Cowen

It was three years ago that Josh Cowen’s career dreams officially took flight.

It was three years ago that Josh Cowen’s career dreams officially took flight.

“My dad flew planes and helicopters when I was younger and I’ve always had an interest in that,” Cowen said earlier this week.

“And then, one day about three years ago, I remember some TV show was on, some show about flying planes and I was like ‘I’m going to be a pilot’. I decided right then and there.”

Cowen, at the time, was just nicely into his three-years-plus role as a Red Deer Rebels forward, a stint that ended in January when the 20-year-old was officially released as a player but retained as a Rebels assistant coach.

Once he was let loose as a player due to the WHL’s three-per-team overage rule and his history of concussions, Cowen had more time on his hands and his aviation plans were back on track.

“The notion of getting a pilot’s license, well I just kind of thought it was an interesting (career path). Back when I first entertained the idea, it was kind of a distant dream of mine,” he said.

“Through the past three years I’ve been researching it and looking at different schools and what the costs are and how I’d do it. There were other things to consider, like what your life would be like if you get into aviation.

“I just kind of got more and more interested in it and once I got released from the Rebels, Wally (Rebels GM/head coach Jesse Wallin) told me I had the opportunity to go to school if wanted to, that I could do something in the morning and take advantage of my WHL (education scholarship money).”

And so it came to be that Cowen enrolled at the Sky Wings Aviation Academy at Red Deer Regional Airport and is now well on his way to earning his private pilot license.

Cowen takes to the skies with instructor Colten Abel of Sky Wings in a single-engine Cessna for two one-hour flights Monday to Friday.

“I’ve probably flown about 12 hours so far and I just wrote the PSTAR exam so I can get my student pilot permit and can fly solo,” he said. “You need over 90 per cent and I passed the exam.”

Cowen planned to fly solo at some point this week or next week at the latest.

“That will be a cool experience,” he acknowledged. “Right now I’m flying with the instructor and I have full control of the plane the whole time. He’s there to make sure I don’t mess up.”

A minimum of 40 hours of air navigation is required in order to take the written test towards acquiring a private licence.

“Considering you can fly all over North America (with a private licence) with passengers, that might not sound like a lot of hours,” said Cowen. “But I think your confidence builds a lot every time you go in the air. Right now I don’t feel like I could fly solo, but after a couple of flights I think I will.”

Cowen guesses that he’ll fly 45 to 50 hours before he attempts to get his private licence.

“Then again, it might only be 40 hours. It all depends on when I feel comfortable enough to write my test,” he said. “Really, it’s up to the individual.”

The Salmon Arm, B.C., native is hoping that the end result of his Sky Wings instruction and any further training he takes will allow him to become a commercial pilot.

“That’s my goal. I have a long road ahead of me and I understand that,” he said.

“I know that there’s a lot of sacrifice involved with it, but that’s the dream right now. It’s almost like going to an NHL camp.”

To reach the level required to gain a commercial licence, Cowen will have to complete a two-year program, either at Sky Wings or another aviation academy.

“I’d like to take the course in B.C., but this program at Sky Wings is top notch,” he said. “The instructors are all good and treat you really well. I know them personally now so I might very well end up staying here.”

Ultimately, Cowen sees himself behind the controls of a jetliner.

“Eventually, I’d like to be flying the big jets, but I could start off as a bush pilot,” he said. “That would be right up my alley.”

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

Rebels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Image from Facebook)
UPDATED: Rocky Mountain House store bars vaccinated customers

‘No proof the vax works and no proof it does not shed’

Bloc Québécois MP Sebastien Lemire rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, March 12, 2021. A Bloc Québécois MP has apologized for taking a screen shot of a Liberal MP who inadvertently appeared nude during virtual proceedings in the House of Commons last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Bloc Québécois MP apologizes for taking nude photo of Liberal MP William Amos

‘I have no idea how that photo made its way into the media’

FILE - This Sunday, June 25, 2017, file photo shows TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. A driver in South Carolina is the latest person to be killed by an exploding Takata air bag inflator. Honda says that a faulty driver’s air bag blew apart in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The company wouldn’t give details of the Jan. 9, 2021, crash near Charlotte, North Carolina, nor would it identify the person who was killed. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
South Carolina driver killed by exploding air bag inflator

Drivers can check to see if their vehicles have been recalled

Hospital staff shift the body of a COVID-19 patient on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance at a specialized COVID-19 hospital in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi, India, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Low on beds, oxygen, India adds global high 314K virus cases

Government rushing oxygen tankers to replenish hospital supplies

A traveler wearing a protective mask, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, walks through the nearly empty JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport in Boston, Friday, May 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Charles Krupa
JetBlue expanding wings with service to Vancouver from New York and Boston

JetBlue will have to compete with Canadian airlines

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

A Blanding’s turtle (Gabrielle Fortin/Contributed)
Earth Day: Finding hope in an old sweater

During the pandemic, many of us have spent several months at home.… Continue reading

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says 1.7 million reusable masks have been ordered at a cost of $4.2 million.” (Advocate file photo).
Alberta teachers and education minister swap accusations of politicizing curriculum

EDMONTON — Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says the group representing Alberta teachers… Continue reading

FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo, people take pictures of the Olympic rings installed by the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)
Olympic bodies launch competitive series in virtual sports

Olympic body hopes to reach more young people

Linda Tomlinson
Gardening: Leave the lawn until the soil is dry

Spring is arriving, Alberta style with warm days, cold days and snow.… Continue reading

Silent protests were held recently in response to Red Deer Public Schools’ decision to reject a Pride Week in favour of a Diversity Week. Some former employees at Red Deer Public are saying the decision is misguided. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Letter: School board silencing Pride Week concern

While it has been our practice to not comment on matters arising… Continue reading

Most Read