Flight school lands at Charlottetown airport
A long-time flight instructor moved to P.E.I. to run a lavender farm with his wife, but now he's back in the air running a satellite base of his former flight school.
Islanders who want to train as pilots now have local option
He came for the lavender but long-time flight instructor Paul Tymstra is now living his aviation dream here on Prince Edward Island.
Tymstra and his wife were visiting lavender farms in Quebec when they decided to make the trip across the Confederation Bridge, and were immediately smitten.
It's a dream come true for me.— Paul Tymstra, flight instructor
"My wife and I looked at the beautiful red soil and the rocks and we said, 'It's stunning here'," explained Tymstra. "My wife said 'I really want to move there.'"
Tymstra was working out west and could commute to the east coast. Six months later, he and his wife were living on P.E.I.
Interest in the air
When Tymstra was laid off in April, he was contacted by members of the P.E.I. Flying Association. He was also in contact with his former boss at the Huron Flight Centre in Sarnia, Ontario, where he had been an instructor for years.
After a well-attended information session in August, Tymstra launched Huron Flight Centre Atlantic. The Sarnia operation sent Tymstra a plane and they applied to Transport Canada for the satellite base.
He currently has 18 students in his fall session, with another five already signed up for next spring.
The centre offers training for a recreational pilot permit, private pilot licence and commercial pilot licence.
Barry Martin, past president of the P.E.I. Flying Association, said there have been several Island flight schools over the years, but none currently until Huron opened this fall. Islanders who wanted to train locally as pilots had to travel to either the Moncton Flight College or the Debert Flight Centre, near Truro.
"There were people leaving here to get training there—but to get an hour of flight it takes you a day to do it," said Martin.
'I can actually attain a dream of becoming a pilot'
Jeff Newson is in his sixth week of ground training at the Huron Flight Centre, with three hours flying so far, and said he's thrilled to have a local flight school again on P.E.I.
"It basically means I can actually attain a dream of becoming a pilot or not — because of the time, the money, the expense of travel to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia," said Newson. "It means either doing it or not being able to do it."
Tymstra said he never expected when he and his wife moved to P.E.I. that he would be running his own flight school.
"It was unexpected," said Tymstra. "So for this to actually unfold, I mean it's a dream come true."