Sudbury teen to attempt solo cross-Canada flight
Matthew Gougeon hopes to establish a record to become the youngest person to fly an amphibious aircraft solo from coast to coast
The Canadian Press
Posted: Jul 10, 2012 3:42 PM ET
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2012 3:37 PM ET
A Sudbury teenager is taking to the skies in an attempt to set a record for a cross-country flight.
Sixteen-year-old Matthew Gougeon hopes to become the youngest person to fly an amphibious aircraft solo from coast to coast.
He planned to leave home his home in Sudbury, Ont., Tuesday for Tofino, B.C., where his journey will begin.
Gougeon is set to officially start his solo adventure on Friday and hopes to land in Halifax on July 20.
He'll fly a Cessna 182 with amphibious floats for his cross-country trip and estimates the entire journey will take about 25 hours in the air.
As he attempts to establish a record, Gougeon will also be collecting donations for the Neil Armstrong Fund, which provides flight training to young people.
"The main goal of the flight is to collect donations for those who are not fortunate enough to fly, and have the determination and work ethic to become a pilot," he said on his website.
The high school student appears to be ready to soar towards his goals.
"I'm pretty confident with my flying right now," Gougeon said in an online video posted five days ago. "Pretty much the hardest part is landing and I've got that pretty much down pat."
The teen will have a camera mounted on his wing to document parts of his trip and plans to keep those interested in his journey updated through his website along the way.
As his trip will be a low-altitude one, Gougeon will need to be able to see the ground at all times, a factor which makes weather a significant element.
"I can't fly without visual reference to the ground," he explained. "Weather could potentially be a big problem and that is really a challenge because that makes it really hard to estimate how many days it will take."
If he runs into any problems mid-air, Gougeon said he plans to tackle them with rational thinking.
"You just have to go with the flow," he said. "Whatever happens you have to think about the possible outcomes of the decisions you're about to make and decide what's best from there."
While his formal flight training began at 13, Gougeon had already logged many hours in the air with his father, who is also an avid flyer.
Gougeon, who currently has a recreational pilot licence, made his first solo flight a little less than two years ago in an aircraft used for military training in the Second World War.
Last summer, he passed his private pilot written test on the first try.
Gougeon said his trip is a "personal challenge" which builds on years of flying.
"My first flight was one week after I was born," the teen said on his website. "Flying has been a passion of mine all of my life."
Click on the audo button to hear Gougeon's interview with CBC Sudbury Points North host Jason Turnbull.
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