Photo Contributed The 909 Squadron Royal Canadian air cadets got the opportunity to see West Kelowna from the windows of a helicopter.

Air cadets take to the skies

West Kelowna air cadets ended their season with a helicopter ride, Saturday

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a band of air cadets.

Around 20 of the 909 Squadron Royal Canadian air cadets and one Capital News reporter got the opportunity Saturday, June 10 to see West Kelowna from a bird’s eye view.

At Wildcat Helicopters, the cadets strapped themselves into a Bell 212 helicopter and enjoyed the sights of trees, mountains, houses and trails from a different perspective.

For cadets Ben Hinter, 14, and Morgan Elder, 13, it was their first time in a helicopter.

“Taking off was super cool, I liked the initial feeling of lifting off the ground and when we looked at all the trees and stuff that you normally don’t get to see,” said Hinter. “It was interesting because I felt like there’s so much unchartered territory it seems.”

Elder saw her house as she flew past.

“I’m pretty sure my dad was watching. I liked turning,” she said. “I loved seeing all the trees and going through them was kind of nice.”

All the cadets said they’d do it again and exchanged stories of who saw what waterfall and how they felt about the flight.

Being home schooled, Hinter got into air cadets to socialize. “And you get to go in helicopters which is a really big bonus,” he said.

He doesn’t know what he wants to be yet, but “maybe if I become really rich I’ll buy a helicopter and learn how to fly it,” he said.

Elder always thought airplanes were interesting and joined the cadets because of her older brother.

The last time the air cadets went up in the air for a helicopter flight was three years ago.

“What we’re going to be doing today is called a familiarization flight, so getting the cadets familiar with various air crafts, getting them exposed to the aviation industry,” said Lt. Hannah Moir.

The cadets also looked at various air crafts in the hanger as groups took turns in the helicopter.

Flight sergeant Ryan Jaggard is used to being up in the sky and helped put the idea of a helicopter experience in motion.

Last summer, Jaggard received his glider pilot’s license which allows him to fly SGS-233A Schweizer glider planes.

Jaggard’s father was a mechanic in the military and pushed him towards joining the cadets.

“That’s where things took off, both literally and figuratively,” he said.

He hopes to pursue a military career, but for now he’s a Grade 11 student at Mount Boucherie Secondary.

“It’s a dream to be up in the air. It’s freedom basically,” he said.

This summer he plans to get his engine license as part of the power pilot scholarship course which will allow him to fly small planes that contain engines.

“After the summer I’ll be able to fly powered air crafts, but I won’t be able to drive,” he laughed.

The helicopter rides ended the air cadet season which takes place from September to June. Now, cadet summer camps are starting.

To find out more information about the air cadet program visit www.909peregrine.ca. The program is available for ages 12 to 18.