Pilot seeks to increase Manitoulin accessibility to aviation resources

GORE BAY—Local pilot Wade Cook has been a resident of Manitoulin for just a short time but it seems that his interest and experience in aviation is elevating the interest of others.

Mr. Cook recently published an open invitation, welcoming those with an interest in piloting to attend the initial meeting for a private pilot ground school, which took place Monday, January 16. Participants were given an introduction and outline of the course and information about what would be required of them should they want to obtain a private pilot licence.

“Students must complete at least 40 hours of ground school, which must be verified by an instructor-in this case myself, and they receive a  letter of certification for that. Then they can complete their written exam and after flight training, eventually a flight test,” said Mr. Cook. He explained the process of acquiring the necessary training and noted that the course he is offering is also available in Sudbury or online, but at a  cost. “I’m offering this ground school course for free because it really is the greatest way to know what level of interest exists.”

Mr. Cook’s journey in aviation started at the young age of 13 as an Air Cadet; he later became a Reserve Cadet Officer and remained an instructor for 22 years before retiring from teaching. His experience as a full-time pilot, both during and after his retirement, includes approximately 10,000 hours of flying aircraft of all sizes. Now a corporate pilot for Manitoulin Transport, Mr. Cook mentioned that despite being employed as an aviator he has a genuine interest in flying for leisure, although obtaining and managing aircraft on his own would be a great undertaking.

“I fly for a living, this is an opportunity to share it,” he noted. “It’s possible for a partnership to develop as well.” He acknowledged that shared ownership of aircraft and responsibility could be great for interested parties as it would allow them the freedom to partake in flying at a reduced cost.

Generating interest for the potential of mutually shared benefits is just one of Mr. Cook’s ambitions in offering free ground school; he also hopes to improve accessibility to aviation resources including education and operation. His hope of establishing partnerships with either local residents or businesses plays an important role in making that happen.

“There are no flight training facilities on Manitoulin, the closest would be Sudbury-and who wants to drive all the way there and back,” stated Mr. Cook. It was not hard to tell from the attendance at the initial meeting that many would agree there is a high demand for education, especially since these classes are being offered free of charge. Over 30 people showed up from all over Manitoulin to seize an opportunity to learn, some of whom travelled from as far away as Wikwemikong.  To add to the prospect,  over two-thirds of the initial attendants confirmed their interest and desire to seek a piloting licence by placing an order for their required materials-including a copy of the book “From the Ground Up.”

Mr. Cook expressed his thoughts on the turnout and reciprocation of the introductory meeting after explaining that he had prepared for any number of people, “I’m very happy.” When asked if he would offer the course again in the future, he concluded that it would depend on the outcome of his current efforts.

The first official class took place Monday, January 23 and will be followed by 14 more consecutive weeks of study in the basement of the Royal Canadian Legion in Gore Bay. Anyone is welcome to attend, even if they do not intend on obtaining a licence, as the ground school is being offered for free.

If you would like more information about this private pilot ground school, please contact Wade Cook at 705-282-0488 or 905-518-8306 (cell) or by e-mail at wcook@manitoulintransport.com.