Gore Bay Flying Club helps local resident get private pilot licence

The Gore Bay Flying Club has helped Andy Atchison (in photo) with his private pilot licence, through its private pilot ground school.

GORE BAY—The Gore Bay Flying Club has now helped its first licenced pilot to get his private pilot licence through its private pilot ground school.

“Recently we had Andy Atchison complete his private pilot licence,” stated Wade Cook, pilot and instructor of the Gore Bay private pilot ground school. “Andy started in June of this year flying his privately owned Piper Cherekee 180. Taking in his combined total for both the written and flight test, Andy managed to achieve a 92.3 percent average. A great effort by Andy when you consider a pass is 60 percent.”

“We know have one more licenced pilot on the Island and I am proud to say I had something to do with that,” added Mr. Cook.

“Becoming a pilot and flying a plane is something I’ve wanted to do all my life. I’ve always wanted to be an airplane pilot,” Mr. Atchison told the Recorder late last week. “Even when I was a little kid playing in a sandbox, when I saw an airplane go overhead I would stop and watch it in the sky.”

“It is pretty exciting for the Island to have this type of private pilot ground school through the (Gore Bay Flying) club and Wade as the instructor. To have all this on the Island is amazing,” said Mr. Atchison.

Mr. Atchison, who lives north of Manitowaning, had previously worked for the Ontario Provincial Police Manitoulin detachment, as well as off-Island. “We left the Island in 2002 and retired here in 2012. The Island is a marvelous place to live.”

“Being a policeman was a great career and I have no regrets,” said Mr. Atchison. “But when we moved here permanently, and having retired, I decided it was time for me to follow my dream.”

“I was 56 when I started,” said Mr. Atchison. “I started out by buying an airplane with a  couple of other individuals and then took my pilot training.” He partnered with two other individuals to purchase the plane, one man who was already a qualified pilot and another who is enrolled in the Gore Bay Flying Club pilot’s training school.

“I had called Wade to join up for the pilot school through the flying club and took the private pilot ground school this spring,” continued Mr. Atchison. His final flight examination was held in Sault Ste. Marie in October. “It was pretty exciting to fly to the Sault for the final exam and then fly back to the Island as a licenced certified pilot.” 

“Now I can come and go as I please,” said Mr. Atchison. “Basically it only took three months, starting with the flight school to get my licence. I’m proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks and one of my partners in the airplane purchase is going through the same process through the GBFC and Wade. We are so fortunate to have him and this school on the Island, it is a boost to the Gore Bay-Manitoulin Airport with fuel sales and use of the runway and the municipality.”

Mr. Atchison credited the instructor in helping make his lifelong dream come true. “Wade is very enthusiastic and passionate about flying,” he said, adding “this can’t help but rub off on his students and that is why the program is thriving.”

“I would encourage anyone, regardless of their age, if they are interested in getting their pilots license to follow their dream. The sky is the limit,” added Mr. Atchison.