“Everything just came together at the right time. Everyone pulled together because I think they could see the obvious potential for this program. And students who are dreaming of a career in aviation just received a tremendous opportunity to realize that dream,” says Andy Sundahl who has been a teacher in the Nechako School District since 1993 and earned his initial instructor rating with the Edmonton Flying Club back in 1988.
The story began with the College of New Caledonia recognizing the impending pilot shortage and the foresight to create a program to train pilots to a commercial level. The Vanderhoof airport is an excellent training airport with three runways including two grass runways and a GPS approach. The uncontrolled airport is within the flat central plateau with only a short flight to Prince George, Fort St. James, Quesnel, Fraser Lake and other nearby aerodromes. With the support of local pilots, including Guardian Aerospace owner Eric Stier, Vanderhoof village council, Nechako School District #91 and Community Futures Development, an aviation business diploma program was developed and launched in 2013. Two Redbird FMX 1000 flight simulators were purchased and installed in the Vanderhoof CNC campus building as an integral part of the program.
Aviation 11 will not only focus on the required Transport Canada ground school topics, but also include the history of aviation, model building and cross-curricular projects with English, Math, Science and even Art and Multimedia. Field trips to the new RD aviation maintenance hangar at the Vanderhoof airport as well as a Prince George airport tower and facility tour are also in the plans for this semester. The course includes more than twice the number of hours required for the private license and allows for a much broader educational experience for students. In addition to their ground school requirement, students will also be earning Applied Skills credits toward their high school graduation diploma. Students will be fundraising and looking for sponsorship for dual instruction in the Vanderhoof Flying Club’s Cessna 150 as well as program varsity jackets similar to Nechako Valley’s basketball and football teams. The excitement and pride of the enrolled students is obvious.
We’re just so proud of our community and how everyone came together to make all the pieces work for the benefit of our students.
For more information, contact Andy Sundahl at 250-567-7834, firstname.lastname@example.org or at Nechako Valley Secondary School 250-567-2291