New flight simulator will help Yukon students get their wings

Whitehorse now has the only flight school in the North with a state-of-the-art simulator.

Facility offers Yukoners 'the level of education that they would get in any flight school across the country'

Jenna Collee, a flight instructor with Alkan Air, shows reporters the new state-of-the-art flight training simulator at the company's flight school. (Mike Rudyk)

Alkan Air's flight school in Yukon has a new state-of-the-art flight training simulator to use, putting it on par with other flight schools across the country.

Alkan Air president Wendy Taylor says getting first-class training without having to leave the territory is essential for some students who want to learn to fly.

"It allows us to really attract students coast-to-coast, and also provide any Yukon students the level of education that they would get in any flight school across the country," she said.

Fasten your seatbelts - Yukon MP Larry Bagnell and the territory's Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai test out the new simulator. (Mike Rudyk)

The simulator was purchased in partnership with Yukon College, which offers an aviation management diploma program. The cost was split between the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) and the Yukon Government, both contributing $100,000 each. Alkan Air put in an additional $46,463.

Jenna Collee, a flight instructor with Alkan Air, says the company's old flight simulator is outdated, and the new one is a big improvement.

The old flight training simulator served students well over the years, but new technology and realistic simulations of flying were needed. (Mike Rudyk)

"It is a partial motion simulator, so that when you are actually in the cockpit it feels like you are making turns and climbing and ascending. It gives you a realistic picture there."

She says it can also simulate emergencies, such as engine failures and electrical failures. Collee says students can follow the process they would go through in an emergency, and have a realistic experience without putting students or aircraft in any danger.

Helina Tenhoeve, who is taking the aviation management program at Yukon College, says the new simulator feels like a real plane.

Yukon College student Helina Tenhoeve says the new flight simulator feels like being in a real plane. (Miike Rudyk)

"How do you describe the feeling when you pull up on the control column when the plane comes off the ground?" Tenhoeve asked. "I just love that feeling, and you feel it in the flight simulator."

Tenhoeve is a first-year student in the course, who moved to Yukon from Abbotsford, B.C. She says Yukon is now her home and she plans to be a commercial pilot.

Wendy Taylor of Alkan Air says there is a pilot shortage in Canada, and she hopes the new flight simulator will inspire more people to consider flying as a career.

"Quite literally, if you were to go through a two-year aviation diploma program or an eight-month intensive program today, at the end of it you would have a job as a commercial pilot," Taylor said.