When flight instructor Tatiana Kachira flew into Charlottetown this past summer, she received a warm welcome from members of the P.E.I. Flying Association.
The reception was understandable.
Ever since the local flight school closed several years ago, it has been next to impossible for Prince Edward Islanders with a passion for the wide-open sky to get their pilot’s license.
It has also been difficult for any of the licensed pilots to upgrade their skills/classifications.
But, over the past few months all that has changed.
“I love to teach. And I love to fly,” says Kachira, sitting at the computer in the General Aviation Building at the Charlottetown Airport, waiting for her next student, Gary Stephen, one of the co-owners of Great Hobbies in Charlottetown.
“Today we’re doing some preparatory ground instruction where we talk about the kind of exercises we’re going to do.
“We’ll also do some preflight briefing. In particular we talk about today’s flight — how the winds are, as well as weather conditions.
“It can be short or long, depending on the student.”
In Stephen’s situation it’s more detailed because he’s receiving night flying training.
It’s also more rewarding.
“This is going to give me more flexibility with my flying. Whenever I fly to Saint John, New Brunswick, I don’t have to worry about flying back home during the day. I can take my time, enjoy my visit there and be able to fly at night,” says Stephen.
Before class, Kachira takes time to go over the lesson plan.
“Tonight, we’re going to practise instrument flying where he can’t look outside. He’ll have to be able to manoeuvre the plane (with those restrictions), which is a challenging task.
“But Gary has been a really good student so he’ll be able to do it well tonight.”
Taking a moment to inspect his plane before take off, Stephen is excited about moving forward with his aircraft license.
“I’m currently a VRI pilot, which means I have to have a visual line of sight. So, getting a night rating is great. And it’s awesome to be able to be able to do it right here on Prince Edward Island.”
Stephen also appreciates Kachira’s patience and dedication.
“Tatiana is a super, super good instructor.”
P.E.I. Flying Association member Barry Martin is also enthused. He hopes that Kachira’s presence will lead to the creation of a new flight school on P.E.I.
“As a member of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, Flight 57, I’m an unofficial contact for flying on P.E.I.
“And I’m always getting contacted from people looking for flight training.”
Over the last few years he has gotten quite a few requests.
“Different people I know have flown with Tatiana and have said that she instills confidence.”
But, unless the students have access to their own planes, they have to rent or borrow ones from nearby airports.
“So we have started working with Moncton and Debert (airports) to see if we could set up a satellite school in Charlottetown. At the moment, Moncton is very busy and Debert is quite busy.
But I think there might be the possibility of starting a satellite flight school in the future. It would be great to give more people a chance to get into aviation.”
Kachira also has her fingers crossed.
“It’s been very, very positive. Some people want a rating and others are keen in completing their license, so they’re glad I’m here.”
“So, it’s a great feeling and I would like to continue instructing on Prince Edward Island.”
AT A GLANCE
Flight instructor fast facts
Tatiana Kachira is a Class 3 flight instructor, who holds a multi rating. She received her instructor’s license from Island Air Flight School and Charters in Toronto.
She recently returned from South America, where she spent most of the year with her girlfriend and 10-year-old twins.
To learn more about Kachira, check out her website at tkachira.weebly.com.
Pilot Gary Stephen inspects the plane before setting off on a night flying lesson with flight instructor Tatiana Kachira. He's one of the people benefiting from flying lessons with Kachira this season.
©GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE