GORE BAY—Manitoulin Transport pilot Wade Cook is looking to make the best of his newfound Island home and all that it, and he, has to offer—including the Gore Bay Western Manitoulin Airport.
Mr. Cook, after flying over Manitoulin thousands of times in his life as a commercial pilot, explained that he had never given the island far below much thought during those trips, except when he decided to answer a pilot-wanted ad for Manitoulin Transport. It was then, he admits, after some research, that he realized that Manitoulin was actually an island and soon to be his new home.
On January 16, Mr. Cook held a meeting to find out what level of interest there would be in holding a pilot ground school for potential new pilots on Manitoulin’s West End. It turns out the interest is high and, out of the 40 people who showed up for that initial meeting, 26 have stayed with it and are currently in week seven of pilot ground school instructed by Mr. Cook.
He began to realize, however, “that this will all be for naught unless we find an airplane.”
Mr. Cook suggested to a few of the students they might think about going together to purchase a plane, but he realized the financial commitment and spirit of cooperation factor that would come with it as a shared resource. The pilot then thought, “what if a club is formed and we get other interested parties, such as licenced pilots, pilots who haven’t flown in some time, instructors and other aircraft owners to join?”
The club would also act as a continuing pilot education program and a social club. Together, the group can come up with a way to lease or purchase an aircraft for flying instruction.
“I’m trying to keep the costs as low as possible,” Mr. Cook added. “I’m begging, borrowing and stealing as much as I can, and asking for a lot of freebies as well.”
Mr. Cook is hoping the Gore Bay Flying Club would be good for the community as well as the airport.
The former Boeing 727 pilot noted that airport manager Robbie Colwell has been urging him to do something with his skills for some time, and he decided to act.
Mr. Cook explained that he was set on the flight path in his early days thanks to his time as an Air Cadet growing up.
“This thing has great potential,” he said. “I’m going to try and push it and make it happen.”
Mr. Cook said he sees the club set up in such a way that it becomes sustainable, complete with a board of directors and an incorporation.
“Any money made goes back into the club,” he added.
So far, the response has been supportive of Mr. Cook’s flying club. “I’ve been getting calls from all over the Island.”
When asked about plans to include Manitoulin East Municipal Airport, Mr. Cook explained that as Gore Bay is his new hometown and his (certified) airport, that will remain his focus, but he encourages all pilots to get involved. “But I’m open to try and incorporate Manitoulin East somehow,” he added.
The first meeting of the Gore Bay Flying Club is Wednesday, March 29 at 7 pm at the Gore Bay Legion. Membership is $50 with all proceeds to be used in the development and implementation of the club.
To find out more information, please contact Mr. Cook by email, email@example.com or at 705-282-0488 (h) or 905-518-8306 (c).