Thunder Bay·Walters Gets Wings

Learning to fly: Walters Gets His Wings

For nearly two decades, I've wanted to fly.

From reporter to pilot, Jeff Walters learns to fly.

The CBC's Jeff Walters poses with his plane at the Thunder Bay International Airport. (Blake Hache)

For nearly two decades, I've wanted to fly.

Be able to get behind the controls of a plane, and take off, knowing that I have full control of where I'm going, and how I'm getting there. I think it was some sort of TV show I saw that involved some teenager talking about getting his pilot's licence before his complete driver's licence that peaked my interest. And, yes, it is possible to actually fly a plane at the age of 16. It means you can fly on your own, before you can drive on your own.

Or, maybe it was visiting one of the old Thunder in the Air shows at the airport in Thunder Bay, and seeing the flight school that was in business at the time. I remember sitting behind the controls of a small Cessna, not even being able to see over the top of the dashboard, and wanting to fly.

"For some people, they just need a phone book," said the instructor.

Needless to say, with me being unable to see over the controls, my mom wasn't about to let me get up in the air anytime soon.

Fast forward a few years, and one of my good friends becomes a commercial pilot. I got up flying with Mike a few times, and I was hooked. He started out his professional career, like many pilots, flying for bush camp operators throughout northwestern Ontario and Manitoba. It was such a rush to take off, and fly relatively low to the ground, and see the sights and sounds of the region.

So, finally last year, I really started to look into flying. It was probably egged on by my friend Bryan, who, when we would get together, would pretty much talk only about aviation. It's helpful that he works at the airport.
Jeff Walters (r) and his flight instructor, Blake Hache take a selfie while above Thunder Bay. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

So, I started inquiring at the local flying club about learning to fly. It wouldn't be as easy as renting a plane, and getting a licence. Transport Canada wanted me to either own a piece of a plane, or go to an actual flying school. Since there is no private flying school in Thunder Bay (yet...more on that in a future post) and I am not willing to give up my day job to become a full-time student at Confederation College, I'd have to find a share in a plane.

Let's just say that took a bit of convincing with my girlfriend. "You need to buy a plane?" said Meghan. The most important word there is need. So, I set out to see how you buy a plane.

The first place I checked, it turns out, had lots for sale. Kijiji sells everything. Although there are many planes for sale online, it was word of mouth that landed me the aircraft I needed to learn how to fly. The process to get all the paperwork to own the plane took a few months - but now I'm learning to fly!

I hope you can follow along as 'Walters gets his Wings.'