Laurentide Aviation – in the pilot’s seat
By Bonnie Wurst –mtltimes.ca
Have you ever dreamed of being able to fly an airplane, or better yet, becoming a fully licensed pilot and pursuing a career in commercial aviation? Becoming a pilot is an alternative career path of which many people might not be fully aware of – and it’s not as far out of reach as one may think.
Continuing your education, learning a trade or obtaining a University degree in fields like business, communication, computer or social sciences for example, is a path commonly followed by many – but perhaps it isn’t really what turns your own propeller. Or maybe you’re at a place in life where you are considering a career change, but your dream of piloting airplanes seems daunting and a little too late in life for you to pursue. Well it’s not. It’s an item on your ‘bucket list’ that can be fulfilled.
The team at Laurentide Aviation can help you embark upon one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences of your life. Whether you are fifteen years old or fifty, it’s never too early – or too late. Their staff of experienced and fully qualified Flight School instructors will take you through an Intensive Career Training program and you could be taking off into the wild blue yonder before you know it.
If the idea of becoming a fully licensed pilot, travelling the globe and waking up in a country far from home is not really compatible with your present lifestyle or other responsibilities, such as family and children, there are other piloting license levels you can still achieve and make your dream of flying a reality.
Laurentide Aviation also offers Aerial Tours at very reasonable prices which will take you from their airport in Les Cèdres, over Montreal as far as the Olympic Stadium and back – offering you a spectacular view of Mount Royal, the city, the river and surrounding area. Imagine what an original and thrilling gift it would be for someone to receive, especially at this time of the year!
Located close to the West Island (just 15 minutes west of Trudeau Airport), it is accessible by both Highway 20 and 40 – and with the newly developed Highway 30, just a short drive from the South Shore. I went to see them to find out more about what they do. Upon arrival, I was greeted warmly by Leslie Edmison, the Head Dispatcher and Office Coordinator, making me feel right at home. I then sat down with Heather Brophy the General Manager – who is also a licensed Private Pilot and clearly knows how to keep the ‘multi-engine’ pace of the place on a straight runway, and Terry McConnon who is the owner & CEO. Terry is a very experienced and warm person, with a great sense of humor and insight – he is also an ex R.C.A.F. Major Retired Pilot and has seen his share of the skies, day and night. He generously shares his knowledge and love of flying, helping with the 150 to 200 pilots who earn their licenses every year at the Flight School. Over the last 50 years, 600 of Laurentide Aviation graduates have found careers with Air Canada and other Major International Carriers.
They are also Canada’s oldest commercial flight training school, first getting off the ground in 1946 when founder Jack Scholefield completed his military career with the R.C.A.F. His goal was to provide the best professional flight training in Canada. And today, their strength continues to lay in the advanced training they offer and the excellent reputation they established early on during their first twenty years at Cartierville Airport – and since 1970, they continue to honor those stripes at their own private airfield at Les Cèdres.
The steps to be coming a fully Licensed Commercial Pilot are easy enough to understand, and if you just want to learn to fly for business or pleasure, a Recreational Pilot Permit allows you to fly a single engine aircraft and have one passenger with you, in daylight hours. This is the quickest and least expensive way to get you flying and helps you build time towards a Private Pilot License.
Here’s a brief outline on how to taxi down the runway towards attaining your Commercial License and what is required to qualify for an ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License):
- The Intensive Career Training starts with the PRIVATE PILOT LICENSE. Once achieved, you can take family and friends flying, while building up the necessary flight time towards your Commercial Pilot License. It includes 45 hours of flying time and 40 hours of ground school.
- Obtaining the COMMERCIAL PILOT LICENSE will allow you to fly for hire. It includes 200 hours of flying time and 80 hours of ground school. The Night Rating, another requirement, is included in the Commercial Training.
Then it’s up to you to decide which route to take from there to accumulate the flying time required (which is approximately 1500 hours), in order to obtain your Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). There are several options such as becoming a flight instructor and teaching others how to fly, or you can fly with Charter Operators who hire co-pilots with 200-250 hours of flight time, where you would be delivering goods or people to many different locations. There is also Bush Flying where you would be flying passengers and vital necessities to small northern communities and hunting/fishing camps. You could work for Small Carriers, who usually handle scheduled flights in southern and northern areas. And then there is also Aerial Photography, Skydiving, Glider Towing, Fire Patrol work that are usually part time positions and good for building VFR flight time. And you get paid.
When you obtain the required hours, you can qualify for the AIRLINE TRANSPORT PILOT LICENSE, which allows you to fly aircraft of any size, including large jets and have many other options open to you.
Laurentide Aviation also offers Mechanical Services. For pilots who have already earned their wings, their fully trained and certified, on-site maintenance staff takes care of their entire fleet, as well as aircraft owned by their customers. They also provide maintenance services to many private aircraft owners.
Basic training and time building is conducted in their two seat Cessna 152 and four seat Cessna 172 trainers. An ATC-810 simulator is also available for Instrument Training.
Their fleet of twelve aircraft includes; seven Cessna 152’s, two Cessna 172P’s, two Grumman Cougar Ga-7 Cougar’s and one Piper PA-28. Terry also has a Tail Dragger called a ‘Bird Dog’ – and if you’re nice to him you just might have a chance to get a ‘checkout’.
Laurentide Aviation is a family owned business, proud of their personalized service and determination in continuing to provide the best professional flight training in Canada. Their staff, who just about all are licensed pilots, male & female, are committed to friendly and competent first-class service. And being what is called an ‘Uncontrolled Airport’ (not in the Flight Zone or air space of any major airport) guarantees there will be no waiting around for takeoff.
You don’t need to wait either. It’s a very realistic and exciting opportunity to learn how to spread your wings and rise above the clouds – literally. It’s worth going to visit them, where I’m sure you will be as warmly received as I was. Check out their website for more details and information:
Les Cèdres airport (CSS3)
870 Chemin St. Féréol
Les Cèdres, QC J7T 1N3
Phone: 450 452-4882
Toll free: 1-888-528-7368
Fax: 450 452-4405